A whopping 45% of people ages 40-49 are pre-frail, according to a new study in BMC Geriatrics.
The study explored when early frailty signs are detectable in people ages 40-75, and found that age is not a key determinant: Adults in their 40s, 50s, and 60s all had high rates of pre-frailty. “You don’t have to be in your 70s or 80s to be heading down the path to frailty,” says coauthor Sue Gordon, chair of restorative care in aging at Australia’s Flinders University, who suggests that interventions and self-management start at 40. (Pre-frailty can even show up before 40, but let’s not think about that.)
Frailty is to be avoided, because it is associated with a variety of disastrous health outcomes. Frail adults are less able to fight off illness, recover from trauma, or adapt to challenging situations.
Signs of pre-frailty commonly include slow walking speed and weak handgrip, as well as low energy/exhaustion, unintentional weight loss, and low exercise (specifically: little walking and minimal moderate or intense physical activity each week).
Pre-frailty can swiftly progress to frailty with a variety of scenarios, including depression, anxiety, low sleep quality, living alone, and low exercise—which, researchers note, are all prevalent during the pandemic lockdown.
Rather that sitting at home and growing more frail, the researchers suggest using this time to prevent pre-frailty.
“People working from home during the self-isolation period can take the opportunity to reassess their health, habits, and routines to seek ways to make their daily routines and homes better places to live, and live longer in the process,” says coauthor Anthony Maeder, chair of digital health systems at Flinders University.