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Under Recognition of Frailty Among the Elderly

An increase in the health of the elderly population has produced a spike in the number of elderly that undergo surgery at an older age. Elderly who are candidates for major surgery often run great risks that are increased when partnered with frailty. Frailty in s can increase the risk of complications during medical procedures and surgery, or with the prescription of medications. Yet, within the surgery population, frailty is believed to be seriously under recognized, leading to a lack of proper preparation of these patients. Diagnosing an elderly patient with frailty early on can seriously reduce the risk of unforeseen complications post medical procedures.

Frailty is a term used to describe several conditions amongst the elderly, such as debility and cognitive impairment. Frailty is generally easy to identify by screening for a few common characteristics such as, exhaustion, low activity level, unintentional weight loss, weakness, and slow gait. By identifying this condition, doctors and caretakers can alter patient’s outcomes with exercises and care plans targeted towards decreasing the stressors that are harder to overcome when partnered with frailty. Illness and injuries, as well as medical procedures and surgeries, pose a much bigger risk to the patient when they have frail health. Due to this, it is necessary that elderly patients be screened and provided with the right plan of action prior to any medical procedure.

A recent study by a group from The University of Chicago Medicine, examined 125 patients over the age of 70 to determine the proportion of them that would benefit from frailty reduction intervention prior to undergoing medical procedures. The 125 patients were candidates for major thoracic surgery, and once screened it was determined that about 70% of them were considered pre-frail or frail. The study determined how under recognized frailty truly is amongst the elderly population and pointed to ways in which screening for this condition early on could reduce the risks of complications for patients.

Awareness of frailty could lead doctors to alter their surgical recommendations or allow caretakers to come up with diverse treatment plans prior to surgery to reduce the patient’s risk. Families and caretakers can aid the elderly in exercises and care procedures that would be likely to reduce the frailty of the patient prior to medical procedures as well as post medical procedures. Upon being aware of the frailty of an elderly patient’s health, care takers can employ specific strategies to benefit the frail.

This is why it is important for those under the care of nursing homes or assisted living facilities to be screened for frailty so that they receive the best quality of care possible. Identifying frailty in older patients early on could significantly reduce the risks of complications during, or following, routine medical procedures and surgeries. As important as it is for these facilities to identify this condition early on, many fail to do so and end up harming their residents in the long run. If you or someone you love has been a victim to this, or any, kind of neglect at an assisted living facility or a nursing home, such as one in  Lawndale or Lomita, California, call us today for a free consultation. We fight passionately for the rights and well-being of our clients.