AN ONLINE test can help detect frailty in Australian seniors, with older women most at risk, according to new research.
The landmark government funded study has found online screening and simple interventions can help seniors maintain their independence and improve their health.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the study, titled Frailty in Community Dwelling Older People/Using Frailty Screening as the Canary in the Coal Mine, outlines a life-changing opportunity, describing frailty detection as a "game-changer".
The Australian-first study, conducted by aged care provider Benetas, took 3000 home-dwelling people aged 65 and over through the FRAIL Questionnaire Screening Tool test (targeting Fatigue, Resistance, Ambulation Illnesses and Loss of weight).
The study found just over a third (38 per cent) fell into the pre-frail category, and slightly more than half (56 per cent) were categorised as robust. Women were found to have a much higher incidence of frailty than men.
Individuals classified as frail are more at risk from fall injuries, deteriorating health and premature death.
"By taking the simple FRAIL five-point online test and following up with your GP as necessary, people have the opportunity to detect frailty before it hits, allowing them to take action to live better lives, remain in their own homes for longer and avoid potential hospitalisation," said Mr Wyatt, who encouraged every senior to take the test.
He said results show frailty is not an inevitable result of ageing and could be prevented or treated.
"Importantly, the study recommends that with the right support at the right time, frailty can be halted or even reversed by consulting with health professionals for safe, simple, inexpensive, practical interventions," Mr Wyatt said.
These include modifying diet to include more proteins, taking Vitamin D supplements, increasing activity (including light resistance exercises and walking) and evaluating prescription medication intake in consultation with your GP.
- The FRAIL test is available through the Positive Ageing Resource Centre website, www.parc.net.au