What is frailty?

Frailty isn’t simply getting older. The risk of becoming frail increases with age, but the two are not the same. Those living with frailty are at higher risk for negative health outcomes and death than we would expect based on their age alone.

Frailty is a state of increased vulnerability, with reduced physical reserve and loss of function across multiple body systems. This reduces ability to cope with normal or minor stresses, which can cause rapid and dramatic changes in health.

Recognizing frailty is a key to improving patient care and to making patients and their families feel better about the care their loved ones receive.

Older Canadians living with frailty are vulnerable and at higher risk of adverse health outcomes. They require a greater share of community resources, need more hospital services and are likely to have extended stays in long-term care.

Older patients living with frailty need holistic approaches that treat the entire person and presenting symptoms in a coordinated, caring manner; instead of as a collection of separate illnesses.