May 2, 2017 by Glenn Savage
Frailty is not a normal consequence of aging, but it does, almost exclusively, impact seniors. By definition, frailty is a "progressive physiological decline of multiple body systems". It is contrasted with normal aging, which is characterized by strong bones and muscles, properly functioning organs, and a low risk of illness and disease.
Because frailty involves the degeneration of multiple body systems, it greatly increases the risk of, and is often linked to, falls, frequent illness, decreased socialization, and a loss of independence. The good news is that when frailty is diagnosed early, there are several interventions that can improve a senior's body functions and prevent further decline.
The three primary interventions used to prevent or reverse frailty are exercise, diet, and safety. Sadly, many frail seniors are not physically able to take care of these activities on their own, or they are emotionally not ready to make changes due to fear or anxiety. In these situations, Comfort Keepers home care aides can make a significant difference.
Exercise is critical to the prevention or reversal of frailty. Unfortunately, the very things that make one frail are also the traits that lead to falls or injury. Among the most common are an altered gait, unsteady balance, a loss of flexibility, and a significant loss of muscle strength. Seniors with these characteristics are often afraid to start an exercise program or engage in regular physical activity. With the support of home care personnel, however, seniors feel more confident and are willing to take greater risks when it comes to fitness.
Frail individuals suffer from unintended weight loss and significantly decreased energy. This is typically a result of decreased muscle mass, but it is also linked to an improper diet. The most important component of the diet for those susceptible to frailty, and especially for women, is protein. According to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, "older women whose diets include higher amounts of protein are less likely to become frail than women whose diets are lower in protein." In other research conducted by Johns Hopkins, people who followed the Mediterranean diet faithfully were 74 percent less likely to become frail.
Frail seniors often struggle with planning, shopping for, and preparing healthy meals. Even when they understand the benefits, the physical tasks are just too much. Comfort Keepers home care personnel are experts in these areas, which can help a senior completely reinvent their diet.
Frailty cannot be reversed overnight. As a result, safety is an essential component to any plan of action. The most common safety adjustments are environmental. Comfort Keepers home care personnel can conduct a home safety audit and fall risk assessment. Once potential safety issues are understood, alterations can be made to the senior's home to make it a safer residence. Even better, most adjustments are quite small and relatively inexpensive.
For more information about how Comfort Keepers home care can help your senior loved one avoid or overcome frailty, contact a senior care coordinator today.