Frailty Kills. Can You Prevent It?

About one-quarter of those over the age of 65 and one-third of those over 80 are medically frail. That number is expected to grow at alarming rates as Baby Boomers continue to age.

This week on Conversations That Matter, Stu sits down with Dr. John Muscedere of the Canadian Frailty Network to discuss the implications of that rising number in our community, aging Canadians, caregivers and healthcare providers.

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Frailty, What Is It?

The term is used in a general context to describe a range of conditions in older people, including general debility and cognitive impairment. There is no clear consensus on the definition of frailty; however, most agree that the term refers to people who have a range of medical conditions that contribute to an ongoing lessening of physical and mental well-being, requiring increasing medical care.

Think About This:

  1. Until recently, frailty has been considered an inevitable factor of growing old. New research and work into delaying frailty are proving that idea incorrect. What does a frail person look like to you? How has your perception shifted?
  2. Frailty is an avoidable medical condition according to many doctors and health practitioners. Here is more reading on how you can work to delay the onset of frailty in yourself or your loved ones: Frailty Is A Medical Condition

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Learn More about Muscedere and the Canadian Frailty Network:

Dr. John Muscedere is the scientific director and CEO of the Canadian Frailty Network (CFN), a not-for-profit organization funded in 2012 by the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence program. He is also a professor of medicine at Queen’s University and an intensivist at Kingston General Hospital in Kingston, Ont.

The Canadian Frailty Network:

With a growing population of elderly people in Canada and continued advances in medical care, the technology and methods for treating frail elderly and providing appropriate end-of-life care is a major issue facing Canada’s health and social care systems.

Technologies and treatments have proven extremely beneficial in helping Canadians live longer with chronic disease. Yet there is mounting evidence that their unwanted use at the end of life is associated with worse ratings of quality of life for both patients and families.

Many of these technologies and treatments are also expensive. There is a serious and immediate need to improve the care of seriously ill, frail elderly patients through a rigorous evaluation and ethical implementation of health care technologies, and to improve communication and decision-making about the use of these life-sustaining technologies.

The Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) is a national initiative to improve care for older Canadians living with frailty, increase frailty recognition and assessment, support research and interventions, and mobilize evidence to transform health and social care for frail older Canadians.

CFN works to break down health silos by facilitating a collaborative and family-centric approach across disciplines and sectors to identify gaps in care and develop solutions to complex questions from acute and critical care to community care. Through research and knowledge sharing, and training the next generation to care for this vulnerable population, CFN aims to have an impact in four areas: improved care of the sick elderly; improved efficiency of the health care system; evidence-informed policy and practice; and reduced moral distress for patients, families, and caregivers.

 

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