Frailty: language and perceptions

Age UK, British Geriatrics Society
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This research investigates what the term 'frailty' means to a sample of older people, their carers and health care professionals. The ultimate aims of the research were to identify ways of supporting older people to engage with preventative strategies and support services. For the study interviews were carried out with older people living with, and without frailty; their carers; and health professionals. Findings discuss attitudes towards the concept of 'frailty', articulating the concept of frailty, and attitudes towards services to prevent and manage frailty. The research found that older people did not identify with the term 'frail' which had negative associations about losing independence and control. Though older people did recognise the experience of living with frailty, as it becomes harder to complete everyday tasks. Regarding attitudes to support services, older people said they would not automatically look for sources of external support. The report highlight two main reasons for this: a limited understanding of what 'support' might look like; and a belief amongst older people that general physical and mental 'wellbeing' are not such a priority as clinical conditions. Recommendations of the report include: avoiding the term 'frailty' or 'frail' when talking to older people; talking more about independence, enablement and resilience; raising awareness amongst health professionals of how best to support older people living with frailty, and finding a way to engage older people with this type of care. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
older people, carers, health professionals, attitudes, user views, independence, prevention, service uptake, social care provision;
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