Scientists find that 5 things in a person’s 50s could indicate whether or not they will be fit and healthy into retirement and beyond
The study done by UCL scientists is published in The Lancet Public Health.
The team found major differences in frailty depending on wealth, gender, marital status, ethnicity, behavior and medical risk.
Someone is defined as frail if they have three or more of the following: unexpected and sudden weight loss, exhaustion, muscle weakness, slowness when walking or low levels of activity.
Frailty is the most common condition leading to death for the elderly who are not living in hospitals or nursing homes.
The five risk factors in a person’s 50s that most impacted on their chances of becoming frail in their 70s were how active a person was, their BMI category, whether or not someone smoked, and two chemicals in the blood linked to inflammation.
Diseases like diabetes, depression and heart disease also affected someone’s risk of being frail in older age.
Having a history of heart attack or angina more than doubled a person’s chances of becoming frail in later life.
Apart from age and social class, you are more likely to be frail if you are a woman or living alone.
Those with a lower income were more than 3 times as likely to be frail than participants of higher social and economic standing.
With an aging population, the researchers expect these inequalities in frailty to become more and more apparent, creating a large increase in older people who need high levels of care, particularly in the most disadvantaged communities.
“By targeting how active someone is, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and understanding more about how inflammation is linked to frailty in later life, we could improve the health of our ever-aging population,” explained lead author Professor Brunner.
“Current healthy aging policy focuses on early prevention, mostly before someone turns 50, but our research shows that it is never too late to look after your health and improve your chances of a healthy and independent later life.”
“Frailty is not just an issue for later life and should not be seen as an inevitable part of getting old.
This research shows that, by taking steps to ensure we are healthy going in to middle age, we can avoid getting on the path to a frail old age.
Health professionals say that this research indicates some key things people can address to ensure they are on track to be healthy at age 50, and beyond.
“These results should be a wake-up call to people in later mid-life who think they are ‘too late’ to make positive changes to their health.”
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News source: University College London.
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