By 2020, the elderly (≥65-year-old) world population is projected to exceed one billion individuals. This demographic megatrend has brought topics such as physiological age and frailty to the forefront of medical research efforts around the globe. The concept of frailty has evolved significantly since the mid-twentieth century. The outdated stereotype of a “thin, stooped, slow octogenarian” has transitioned to a more scientific and objective understanding of the problem. Still, a comprehensive and concise definition of “frailty” remains elusive. Until such a definition is firmly established and universally agreed upon, clinicians continue to rely on the somewhat subjective conceptual framework of today. In this chapter, the authors review key issues pertaining to clinical management of frail patients, including diagnosis/identification, preventive strategies, therapeutic approaches, and common pitfalls. The relationship between frailty, various domains of life, and functional status is also discussed. Finally, we will touch upon the concepts of end-of-life and goals of care, focusing on their relationship to frailty.
Part of the book: Challenges in Elder Care