First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers
Home > Health Library > Frailty in Older Adults
Growing older often means getting tired faster and moving slower than before. But some older people become very weak, and everyday activities become hard to do. This may be a health problem called frailty.
Frailty is more than just "slowing down." An older adult may be "frail" if a combination of these two things is happening:
People who are frail may have trouble doing everyday tasks—going shopping, getting dressed, getting in or out of bed, or using the toilet. They may feel weak and off-balance and worry about falling.
Experts think frailty develops because of changes in how the body works. These body changes are more likely to happen when a person has certain other health problems, such as diabetes or dementia. These other health problems can cause frailty to get worse quickly.
People who are frail are more likely to have depression and to get infections. And it's much harder for them to recover when they get sick or injured.
You can help care for a frail older adult by encouraging your loved one to have a healthy lifestyle and stay connected. You can also monitor medicines and plan extra time when you go places together.
Encourage your loved one to keep up as many healthy lifestyle habits as possible. These habits include:
If your loved one often feels tired, he or she may not feel like going out or seeing people. But it's important to connect with others and stay positive.
People who are frail often are taking medicine for other problems. It's important to review those medicines regularly with the doctor to make sure they're not causing side effects that can make frailty worse.
When a loved one is frail, everything takes longer because he or she is moving more slowly.
Plan ahead, knowing that you'll need extra time. For example, going to a restaurant or a doctor's appointment may take longer because it's harder for your loved one to get to and from the car.
Current as of:
December 7, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineCarla J. Herman MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Current as of: December 7, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Carla J. Herman MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.