Interventions to prevent and treat frailty in community-dwelling older adults: a scoping review

The Canadian population is aging. With aging comes increased vulnerability; that is, older adults’ ability to recover from acute illnesses and other stresses related to the physical aging processes (such as falls) declines. This increased vulnerability is also known as frailty. Frailty is common in older adults and is associated with increased health care service use and adverse health outcomes. Research has identified that if clinicians screen older adults for frailty, they can identify early treatment measures to postpone or prevent negative outcomes such as declining ability to do everyday tasks which over time will lead to increase health care utilization. An overview of available interventions will help health care providers in community settings improve health and prevent and/or postpone adverse health outcomes for older adults. In addition, by mitigating decline of older adults their caregivers will also reap the benefits. However, up until now, there has not been a comprehensive review of interventions that can be done to prevent and/or treat frailty for older community-dwelling adults that can be delivered by health care providers or older adults and their family members/caregivers themselves and focused on outcomes important to older adults, their functional status, quality of life and their ability to stay in their own home.
We addressed this gap by reviewing interventions that are designed to prevent and/or treat frailty in community-dwelling older adults and reviewed international policies that have been developed to this end. We consulted with key stakeholders to find out whether they find these interventions/policies as useful and identify the barriers and facilitators to their implementation in Canada.

Dr. Martine Puts, RN, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto. Dr. Puts obtained her BN from Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Netherlands, followed by her first MSc, in Health Sciences from Maastricht University, Netherlands, and her second MSc, in Epidemiology from VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Dr. Puts obtained her PhD in Epidemiology/Gerontology from the Faculty of Medicine from VU Medical Center, Netherlands. Most recently, she completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biostatistics and Occupational Health in the Department of Epidemiology at McGill University. Dr. Puts’ research focuses on health and functioning of older adults including frailty.