As you get older, you may find yourself losing a bit of the pep in your step. This is normal – but frailty isn’t. Now recognized as a medical condition, frailty goes beyond slight mobility changes or energy level fluctuations, leading to unplanned weight loss, frustrating fatigue, and a loss of muscle tone. It’s the classic depiction of a thin-skinned, slow-moving senior – and it doesn’t have to be you. Find out how to prevent frailty with a few easy changes to your lifestyle.
How to Prevent Frailty
What Is Frailty?
Some older people look like you could knock them over with a feather, as they suffer from significant weight loss and loss of muscle tone. This is more than just the natural affects of aging: It’s frailty, a medical condition that can negatively impact your quality of life during your golden years.
There are several factors that can potentially lead to frailty, including co-morbid medical issues and psychological or cognitive difficulties. Despite its relatively mild depiction in TV and movies, frailty can have series implications, including an increased risk of falls, disability, longer hospital stays, and even a shortened life expectancy. Fortunately, learning how to prevent frailty is as easy as a few lifestyle tweaks.
Are You at Risk of Frailty?
A 2015 study by Johns Hopkins University researchers found that about 15 percent of American adults 65 and older are considered frail. The study also found that between 28 and 44 percent of older adults are considered pre-frail, or at risk of frailty. Not sure if you or a loved one are at risk? According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, individuals who meet three or more of the following criteria could be considered frail:
- Unintentional Weight Loss: You’ve unintentionally lost 10 or more pounds in the past year.
- Unusual Weakness: You have trouble standing without assistance and may struggle with reduced grip strength.
- Fatigue: Everything you do takes a big effort, making it hard to get going during the week. This includes everything from exercise to chores to leisure activities.
- Walking Slowly: If you find yourself walking slower than usual, try to time your steps. Your pace is considered slow if it takes you more than six or seven seconds to walk 15 feet. If that’s the case, you may be frail or pre-frail.
Frailty Prevention Measures
Frailty is serious, but the good news is that it’s far from inevitable. There are several measures you can take to prevent frailty, and you can do them all from the comfort of your home:
- Eat Right: A healthy diet is an important way to prevent frailty and other co-morbid conditions like heart disease. Make sure you’re eating three to five healthy meals a day that provide nutrients from major food groups, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein is especially important as you get older, as it helps build muscle that staves off frailty. Healthy sources of protein include low-fat milk, meat, fish, poultry, beans, and yogurt.
- Exercise Regularly: You don’t have to pump iron or run a marathon to reap the health benefits of exercise. Regular resistance training and light cardio can both help you maintain muscle mass and stave off frailty as you get older. One study even found that exercise could reduce the symptoms of frailty after its initial onset.
- Stay Social: Regular socialization helps you feel your best, but it’s also key to fending off frailty. Johns Hopkins research noted a major improvement in cognitive and physical functioning in older individuals who volunteered their time at local elementary schools.
Frailty might be disconcerting, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable. With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can stay fit and healthy and make the most of your golden years.
Are you looking for a community that provides a positive, healthy atmosphere where you can live out your golden years? The Shores of Lake Phalen is an assisted living community in a quiet, peaceful environment in Maplewood, Minnesota. Surrounded by a gorgeous wooded setting between two lakes, our residence offers the accessibility of apartment-style housing with the atmosphere and elegance of a resort. We offer numerous health and safety amenities, fun events and activities, a friendly and accommodating staff, and so much more. Schedule a tour of the community to explore our spacious apartments, elegant dining room, and more. We look forward to hearing from you!