Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Geriatrics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Frailty among rural elderly adults

Carmen-Lucia Curcio, Guadalupe-Maria Henao and Fernando Gomez*

Author Affiliations

Research Group on Geriatrics and Gerontology, International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics Collaborative Center, University of Caldas, Manizales, Colombia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Geriatrics 2014, 14:2  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-14-2

Published: 10 January 2014

Abstract

Background

This study aimed to estimate the prevalence and associated factors related to frailty, by Fried criteria, in the elderly population in a rural area in the Andes Mountains, and to analyze the relationship of these with comorbidity and disability.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was undertaken involving 1878 participants 60 years of age and older. The frailty syndrome was diagnosed based on the Fried criteria (weakness, low speed, low physical activity, exhaustion, and weight loss). Variables were grouped as theoretical domains and, along with other potential confounders, were placed into five categories: (a) demographic and socioeconomic status, (b) health status, (c) self-reported functional status, (d) physical performance-based measures, and (e) psychosocial factors. Chi-square, ANOVA, and multinomial logistic regression analyses were used to test the prognostic value of frailty for the outcomes of interest.

Results

The prevalence of frailty was 12.2%. Factors associated with frailty were age, gender, health status variables that included self-perceived health and number of chronic conditions, functional covariate variables that included disability in activities in daily living (ADL), disabilities in instrumental ADL, chair stand time, and psychosocial variables that included depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment. Higher comorbidity and disability was found in frail elderly people. Only a subset of frail elderly people (10%) reported no disease or disability.

Conclusions

A relevant number of elderly persons living in rural areas in the Andes Mountains are frail. The prevalence of frailty is similar to that reported in other populations in the Latin American region. Our results support the use of modified Cardiovascular Health Study criteria to measure frailty in communities other than urban settings. Frailty in this study was strongly associated with comorbidities, and frailty and comorbidity predicted disability.

Keywords:
Frailty; Disability; Prevalence; Colombia