Over 1.6 million older Canadians live with frailty. This number may be higher, as frailty frequently goes undetected and screening is not conducted consistently. As Canada ages, it is estimated that in ten years this number will rise to over 2 million older adults living with frailty.
Frailty becomes more common with increasing age. People who are frail are more likely to have many health care problems reducing their ability to function and their ability to do the activities necessary for daily living. As frailty severity increases, the risk of deterioration and death, especially from minor illnesses and injuries greatly increases.
See below how you can AVOID Frailty and take control…
The best way to stay mobile, strong and healthy is to do activities that strengthen your muscles, get your heart beating, and challenge your balance. It’s never too late to start! Even adults in their 80s and 90s have been known to rebuild muscle strength with regular exercise. Activity and exercise can slow, and in some cases reverse frailty. Remember to also let your body recharge and repair with sleep. Sleep changes as we age, but older adults still need 7 to 8 hours per day. Find out more about staying active.
As we age, our body’s ability to fight off infection is reduced. Vaccines are safe and effective, and they greatly improve your ability to resist infectious disease and avoid illnesses that can cause hospitalization or lead to poorer health. Adults over 65 years of age should get the high dose flu vaccine annually, as well as a shingles and pneumonia vaccine once as an adult over age 50. Also, check that your booster shots up are to date, including diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Find out more about vaccines.
1 out of 4 Canadian adults over the age of 65, take at least 10 different types of medications. Some medications may no longer be required, while other new medications may be needed. Have your health care provider review ALL your medications periodically, including prescriptions, over the counter drugs and even vitamins and supplements. If unchecked, multiple medicines may interact poorly and cause side effects which may lead to frailty – like poor nutrient absorption, confusion, dizziness and falls. Find out more about optimizing your medication.
In older adults, loneliness and social isolation has been associated with a 45 per cent increased risk of death. Evidence also suggests that loneliness and social isolation can accelerate physiological aging and may lead to several other health problems, including high blood pressure, depression and dementia. Older adults with strong social relationships enjoy a better quality of life and often live longer! Social isolation is a physical isolation from others, while loneliness is a subjective, self-perceived feeling. One can be among others, but still feel lonely. Conversely one can live alone, but never experience loneliness. Maintaining levels of social engagement that you are comfortable with as you age is very important – Join a club, take a class or volunteer in your community. Meaningful relationships can improve your health! Find out more about staying involved.
Diet and Nutrition
Food is medicine! As we age, we need more of certain nutrients like protein found in fish, eggs and other sources to keep muscles and bones strong. Vitamin D and calcium also support bone and muscle strength and may help prevent frailty. Eating enough good food and getting proper nutrition can reduce the risk of frailty and help you live well, longer! Find out more about eating well.
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These are general health guidelines and should not be considered personal medical advice. You should consult your health care provider and discuss each element outlined above to ensure that each element of the AVOID Frailty campaign is personally customized for you.