Frailty is an increasingly recognized but poorly understood condition. It is broadly defined as a state of increased vulnerability, with reduced physical reserve and loss of function across multiple body systems. As a result, normal or minor stresses can cause rapid and dramatic changes in health. Frail people face significantly higher risks of adverse health outcomes.
Although not all elderly people are frail, risk of frailty increases with age. According to the Canadian Frailty Network (CFN), about 50% of those aged 85 and older are medically frail. Based on current trends, the number of frail seniors will increase dramatically during the next few decades, in part due to the increased prevalence of chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and dementia.
For the long-term care sector, frailty represents a daunting challenge because little is known about how best to care for frail people and maximize their quality of life. According to the Canadian Frailty Network: “No care setting in Canada currently identifies and assesses frailty as standard clinical practice.” 1 Perley Rideau’s resident population, recognized expertise, record of excellence in care, and strong partnerships in the healthcare and education sectors, make it the ideal setting for the Centre of Excellence in Frailty-Informed Care.
The Centre of Excellence will conduct the research needed to develop evidence-based protocols in care, along with the resources that families and friends need to support frail seniors. It will also develop the educational and training resources needed to properly train healthcare professionals. This combination of actionable research and knowledge transfer promises to improve the lives of frail seniors for generations to come.