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Frailty and Sarcopenia are Strong Indicators of Future Negative Health Outcomes

One of the primary health issues in the United States that significantly affects the older adult population is diabetes mellitus. Not only is this disease related to premature aging, chronic diabetes is related to serious physical and cognitive problems as well, particularly among people with poor blood glucose metabolism.  Furthermore, the danger of uncontrolled diabetes is reduced quality of life and increased healthcare expenses.

Older adults who are physically frail are at higher risk of negative health events that can result in adverse outcomes.  Substantial evidence has shown that frailty is a strong indicator of disability and mortality.  Moreover, the prevalence of frailty in elderly people who are 65 years and older is 32%-48% among those with diabetes, compared to an estimated 5%-10% among those without diabetes.  Diabetes patients who are frail have greater negative health outcomes compared with diabetes patients who are not frail.

Due to the fact that frailty can be a focus for treatment, it is critical that frailty is identified in the early stages of its development.  Recently, a systematic review found that structured exercise programs resulted in better physical function among frail older adults.  Another study showed that older adults who engaged in physical exercise at a moderate intensity experienced significant improvements in mobility disability, with greater positive results seen in those who were frail.

Sarcopenia is the primary source of frailty and is known as an age-related decline in muscle mass and strength.  This normal, physiologic condition of aging occurs at an approximate rate of 1% per year after 30 years of age.  Diabetes is also known to increase the rate of loss of muscle mass and strength. Moreover, patients with diabetes have as high as 80% increased risk of becoming physically disabled.  It is common for patients with type 2 diabetes to have lower lean muscle mass in the legs and lower muscle strength and functional capacity than adults without diabetes.  Studies have proven that early forms of sarcopenia can be treated through appropriate forms of resistance exercise and dietary supplementation.

A recent study that examined clinical patients with diabetes mellitus who were 50 to 90 years of age found that the prevalence of frailty and sarcopenia is high, and both syndromes act as strong indicators of future hospitalization overnight and increased rate of physical disability after 6 months. These negative health outcomes can significantly deteriorate quality of life and overall wellbeing.

It is extremely important that older adults, especially those who are under the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, engage in appropriate forms of physical activity on a regular basis to prevent frailty and sarcopenia.  Unfortunately, residents in these long-term care facilities are highly vulnerable to elder abuse and neglect, jeopardizing their safety, health, and quality of life.  If you or someone you love has experienced abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility, such as one in Lakewood or Lancaster, California, call our office today for a free consultation.  We are passionate about protecting the rights of older adults and will pursue your case with vigor.