Frailty has been described as a multisystem impairment responsible for a state of increased vulnerability to endogenous and exogenous stressors. This syndrome may represent the first step towards clinically relevant functional disability and has been shown to be predictive of major negative health-related events. Unlike disability, frailty is widely considered as a reversible condition, amenable to improvement when effective interventions are implemented.
As a highly prevalent condition in the general older population, frailty is of special interest for public health authorities. Nevertheless, to date, its recognition as a “real” clinical condition worth to be identified, assessed, and treated remains insufficient. Issues currently affecting the implementation of frailty in the standard geriatric routine include the lack of a unique operational definition, limited awareness of the syndrome, and difficulties of developing primary prevention strategies.
In order to address the urgent demands of knowledge and data in the field, the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society (EUGMS) has recently launched a new working group on “Frailty in older persons”. This initiative is consistent with the priority that the EUGMS poses on the prevention of disability through the study of frailty.
The working group consists of clinicians and researchers from different backgrounds and countries who share a common interest in frailty and disability prevention. The main objective of the group is to support and facilitate the clinical detection, assessment, and treatment of the frailty syndrome in older persons across European countries.
The working group on “Frailty in older persons” group will specifically generate actions aimed at:
– Developing possibilities for primary care physicians to detect frailty in non-disabled community-dwelling older persons;
– Designing dedicated clinical pathways for the identification of causes of frailty in older persons;
– Implementing clinical interventions aimed at preventing or delaying the onset of disability in older persons by targeting the frailty syndrome;
– Building structured follow-up methodologies to monitor the effectiveness of the implemented preventive interventions against disability and the evolution of the health status in frail older persons.
The working group, which met for the first time in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on May 31, 2013, will meet regularly and aims to interact intensively. Scientific documents and reports will be produced to update current evidence in the field and provide recommendations for future initiatives and objectives.
Cesari M, Abellan Van Kan G, Ariogul S, et al. The European Union Geriatric Medicine Society (EUGMS) Working Group on “Frailty in Older Persons”. J Frailty Aging 2013;2:118-20.