Long-Term Care Staff Should Not Take Frailty of Elderly Residents Lightly

It is well known that the older adult population around the world is rapidly increasing. This fact implies that health care systems must make readjustments to better meet the needs of elderly people, no matter their socioeconomic background.  Multimorbidity and needing social support increase as one grows older.  Health issues and disabilities due to age create burden for the older adult, his or her loved ones, and public health care systems.  A strong association exists between the number of older adults in the population and health care costs in developed countries. Health care costs for the elderly population have grown at a faster rate than those for younger adults, primarily because of inadequate systems that are unable to meet the varied and complex needs of vulnerable, frail, and impaired older adults.  Such situations clearly pose a threat to the sustainability of social and health care frameworks.  Due to these reasons, in the past few years, the calls for the implementation of preventative measures against age-related and debilitating conditions in older adults have increased.

In this context, the prevalence of frailty is a concept that is of particular interest.  Substantial evidence has shown that the prevalence of frailty increases with age, with women having a higher prevalence compared with men.  Furthermore, frailty has commonly been found to be related to unfavorable socioeconomic situations such as low education and low financial status.

Strong evidence has shown that the negative outcomes of frailty are many: falls, hospital admissions, impaired physical functioning, institutionalization, and mortality are just a few. However, it is important to note that the progression of and changes in frailty differs depending on the person.

Frailty is not a disease. It is considered to be a syndrome in need of a multidomain and multidisciplinary intervention. This is because it is highly likely that the presence of frailty is caused by multiple factors rather than just one.  Therefore, an older adult who is identified as frail should be given a comprehensive assessment that identifies and treats the underlying factors that result in the extreme vulnerability.

Frailty in residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities should never be taken lightly. These elderly individuals should be screened for fall risk and other negative health risks upon admission in order to provide a thorough assessment and the most appropriate care plan.  Many studies confirm that frailty is a strong indicator of poor health outcomes in elderly people. In addition to hurting the quality of life of the person, frailty critically influences the long-term viability of health care systems.  Staff in such long-term care facilities, such as those in Claremont and Commerce, California, must take the necessary measures to prevent adverse events, such as a fall that results in serious injury, from occurring.  Often times, nurses resort to using physical restraints on residents who are highly vulnerable to falls. However, studies have proven that these instruments are inappropriately relied upon and lead to negative outcomes, such as speeding up an older adult’s physical decline and promoting psychological problems. If you or someone you love has been abused or neglected in a long-term care facility, contact the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi for a free consultation.