As older adults continue to age, they become more vulnerable not only to diseases and disability, but also to cognitive frailty. Cognitive frailty is defined as the simultaneous development of physical frailty and cognitive impairment. An older adult who experiences late-life depression can be susceptible to both physical frailty and cognitive impairment, especially speed of processing and executive functioning.
A recent study explored the relationship between physical frailty and cognitive functioning in older adults with depression. The study found that in late-life depression, physical frailty is significantly related to worse cognitive functioning, although there was not as high of an association with executive functioning. Specifically, physical frailty is related to poorer verbal memory, processing speed, and working memory.
Older adult patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be provided with services that aim to improve cognitive and physical frailty. Staff of these types of care facilities should be aware of residents who are experiencing late-life depression and provide them with the necessary resources to improve their quality of life, which includes their overall health and wellbeing.