Secular trends in frailty: a comparative study of 75-year-olds born 1911-12 and 1930
Journal article, 2015
BACKGROUND: while there is a trend towards a compression of disability, secular trends in physiological frailty have not been investigated. The aim of this paper was to report physiological frailty in two cohorts of 75-year olds examined in 1987 and 2005. METHODS: a repeated cross-sectional study : Two population-based birth cohorts of community-dwelling 75-year olds from Gothenburg, Sweden, born in 1911-12 (n = 591) and 1930 (n = 637) were examined with identical methods in 1987 and 2005. Measures were three frailty criteria from Fried's frailty phenotype: low physical activity, slow gait speed and self-reported exhaustion. RESULTS: seventy-five-year olds examined in 2005 were less frail according to the criteria low physical activity compared with those examined in 1987 (3 versus 18%, P < 0.001).This was seen both in women and in men, and among those with basic and more than basic educational level. Further, men with basic education were less frail in 2005 compared with those in 1987 in slow gait speed (non-significant when adjusted for body height) and low self-rated fitness, while no cohort differences were seen in men with more than basic education. Women with more than basic education were less frail in 2005 compared with those in 1987 in slow gait speed and self-rated fitness, while no cohort difference was seen in women with basic education. CONCLUSION: less 75-year olds were physiologically frail in 2005 compared with those in 1987, with the exception of women with low educational level, suggesting that this is a disadvantaged group that needs to receive particular attention with regard to physiological frailty.