Frailty is often considered to be a natural part of the aging process, but recent research published in the Journal of Gerontology found that it's actually a medical condition defined by specific symptoms.
"Frailty is not an age, it's a condition," says Ava Kaufman, Bethesda internist and geriatrician, told Live Science. "We know it when we see it, and it's always been with us."
The source noted that not all elderly adults become frail, but those that do often display three to five symptoms, including unintentional weight loss of 10 pounds or more in a year, muscle weakness and loss, slow walking speed, fatigue and low levels of physical activity.
Researchers examined 5,317 participants aged 65 and older who received baseline evaluations and follow-ups throughout the study, as well as annual exams. The men and women were also watched for disease, hospitalization, disability, falls and death. The results determined that frailty is a clinical syndrome and occurs when people show at least three of the previously mentioned symptoms. Overall the presence of frailty increased with age and was greater in women than men.
Frailty can limit older adults' ability to fully care for themselves in their homes, but senior care services can provide assistance with daily tasks, like moving around, meal preparation, washing and cleaning.