Physical Frailty in Old Age: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment
As we age, physical frailty can creep up on us, making everyday activities seem impossible and leaving us feeling weak and vulnerable. Sadly, it’s a condition that affects millions of seniors worldwide. According to reports, nearly 43.7% of adults aged ≥65 are diagnosed with this condition.
Apparently, it’s easy to feel helpless in the face of physical frailty. But remember, you have more power than you realize. By preventing and managing the condition, you can turn the tide and help your beloved elder live their life on their terms.
Causes of Physical Frailty in Old Age
Physical frailty is often the result of a combination of factors. These may include genetics, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions. Some of the most common causes of physical frailty in older adults include:
- Sedentary Lifestyle
With age, muscles naturally start to weaken and lose mass, making it challenging for older adults to perform daily activities.
Similarly, a lack of exercise can lead to a loss of bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. It contributes to weight gain, which can strain joints and increase the risk of chronic conditions such as arthritis.
- Social Isolation
Without regular social interaction, your loved ones may experience feelings of loneliness and depression, leading to decreased physical activity and increased sedentary behavior.
It can also contribute to malnutrition, as they may have difficulty accessing or preparing healthy meals without assistance.
- Poor Nutrition
Generally, the body’s calorie requirement declines with aging. That’s why elders often eat less. However, the nutrient requirement stays just as crucial as when they were younger, and sometimes even more so.
So, skipping meals or not eating enough fruits and vegetables can lead to malnutrition, causing weakness and fatigue. Thus, making them more susceptible to illness and injury.
In fact, to avoid this situation, people often send their elders to nursing homes, expecting that the facility will take utmost care of their loved ones.
However, if you are also considering the same, inspect the nursing home properly. Recently, there’s been a rise in nursing home abuse cases where seniors are physically and emotionally harmed. Due to this, victims or their family members are working with a nursing home abuse attorney to protect their rights. The attorney further helps them gain fair financial compensation for medical bills and even assault.
Prevention of Physical Frailty in Old Age
Preventing physical frailty is essential to maintaining independence and quality of life in old age. Here are some tips you can follow to help avoid physical frailty in your loved one:
- Eat A Balanced Diet
As your loved ones age, you must focus on providing them with a well-balanced diet to meet their nutrient requirements. It must include a variety of foods from different food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Your attention, in particular, should provide them with enough calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone health. So, the diet plan must include dairy products, leafy greens, fortified cereals, fatty fish, and egg yolks.
If you’re having difficulty adding all the nutrients to your diet, consider speaking with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.
- Regular Physical Activity
Regular exercises, such as strength training and cardio, can help improve muscle mass, strength, and flexibility and prevent the onset of physical frailty.
Even so, when it comes to exercise, you must find activities that seniors enjoy and are safe for their fitness level. So, you can include activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, or strength training in your routine. It can also improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls.
Tip: Doctors recommend that older adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly.
- Stay Socially Active
Social connections can help reduce stress levels, improve cognitive function, and lower the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and depression. So, you must encourage your elders to participate in social activities like volunteering, joining clubs or groups, or spending time with friends and family.
It will provide a sense of purpose and meaning, which can be particularly important in older age. Moreover, it will help them maintain a positive outlook on life and reduce the risk of physical frailty.
Treatment of Physical Frailty in Old Age
Treatment of physical frailty depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. However, physical therapy, medications, and assistive devices can help them feel better and boost their confidence.
If necessary, you can even request them to go for surgery to repair fractures or joint replacements to improve mobility and prevent falls.
Physical frailty in old age doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion. Taking proactive steps to prevent and manage it can help your loved ones maintain their independence, vitality, and happiness, especially in their golden years.