"She's looking so frail." "He used to be so active." These are not good opening lines for a conversation with or about adults who once were cheerleaders, joggers or soldiers. But the use of "frail" may be a good wake-up call.
In 2009, Columbia and Johns Hopkins Universities research discovered that maintaining an active life is at the forefront of battling frailty. An article from www.caregiverstress.com, Frailty Facts and Research, points out that, "Researchers found that frailty is the result of a systems failure in older adults, rather than specific problem, disease or even chronological age."
Three of five criteria define frailty: muscle weakness, slow walking, exhaustion, low physical activity and unintentional weight loss. Pre-frail is defined as having one or two of the problems. All five of the warning signs could signify a downward spiral in over-all health.
Psychological and physical aspects of aging are affected by activity. Staying active improves physical and mental health. Activity and a diet rich in vitamin D can more easily delay frailty.
Oregon State University researchers have found that older adults have a vitamin D deficiency. Those that are also frail have a 30 percent greater risk of death than those frail people with a higher vitamin D level. And since vitamin D impacts muscles and bones, low levels contribute to frailty.
"What this really means is that it is important to assess vitamin D levels in older adults and especially among people who are frail. . . Our study suggests that there is an opportunity for intervention with those who are in the pre-frail group, but could live longer, more independent lives if they get proper nutrition and exercise," said Oregon State University researcher, Ellen Smit.
Being active and boosting quality micronutrients by taking a vitamin D supplement may help. Vitamin D can be found in outdoor activities in the sun, naturally in milk, fish and enriched whole grain foods, or in a supplement. If your relatives are in the frail or pre-frail categories, consider adding a supplement and outdoor activities in the sun, and, add a friend they can talk with.
The object of life is not simply to live longer but to remain in good health to enjoy life. That's the combination to strive for, and frail people generally have already lost part of the equation. To do better, we need to make wiser choices in diet and activity level.
c. 2012 - Live2AgeWell.com
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