Merck Manual

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Prevention of Frailty


Magda Lenartowicz

, MD, Trinity Hospice, Los Angeles

Last review/revision Oct 2020 | Modified May 2022
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Frailty is loss of physiologic reserve, which makes people susceptible to disability due to minor stresses. Common features of frailty include weakness, slowed motor function, weight loss, muscle wasting (sarcopenia), exercise intolerance, frequent falls, immobility, incontinence, and frequent exacerbations of chronic diseases.

Exercise Exercise in Older Adults At least 75% of people age > 65 years do not exercise at recommended levels despite the known health benefits of exercise: Longer survival Improved quality of life (eg, endurance, strength... read more and a healthy diet ( see Table: Nutritional Recommendations for Prevention of Frailty Nutritional Recommendations for Prevention of Frailty Nutritional Recommendations for Prevention of Frailty ) are recommended for preventing or reducing frailty. Older people who engage in regular aerobic exercise (eg, walking, swimming, running) increase their life expectancy and have less functional decline than those who are sedentary. Mood and possibly cognitive function may also be improved. Weight training can help increase bone mass and reduce risk of falls and fractures. A healthy diet may prevent or reduce risk of many diseases that contribute to frailty, including breast and colon cancers, osteoporosis, obesity, and undernutrition; morbidity and mortality may also be reduced.

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