eFit Individual-Caregiver Resources - Frailty

“Arthritis” means inflamed joint and is a term used to describe a group of diseases and conditions that cause pain, stiffness and swelling in a person’s joints or other parts of their musculoskeletal (muscle and bone) system (1).  Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in Canada and is most common in older adults (1). 

There are several types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout (1). Most types of arthritis are characterized by pain, aching, stiffness and swelling, which weaken the structure and functioning of affected joints (1).This can make simple tasks a challenge and disrupt daily routines. Osteoarthritis is the most common type experienced by older adults and is usually present in the joints of the hands, knees, hips and spine (2).

Participation in physical activity is necessary for a healthy musculoskeletal system. Low-impact exercise such as walking, cycling and swimming help keep joints flexible and strengthen the muscles that support them (2). Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight will help protect joints by avoiding excess stress on them during daily tasks. The use of canes, grab bars and larger handles can help those living with arthritis manage their daily activities. As part of an arthritis management strategy, physicians might also recommend medication to reduce pain (1). Discuss your needs with your health care team.


(1)  Government of Canada. (2011). Chapter 1: Life with arthritis in Canada: A personal and public health challenge – What is arthritis and how common is it? Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/arthritis/life-arthritis-canada-a-personal-public-health-challenge/chapter-one-what-is-arthritis-and-how-common-is-it.html

(2)  Health Canada. (2008). Seniors and aging – Osteoarthritis. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/alt_formats/pacrb-dgapcr/pdf/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/seniors-aines-ost-art-eng.pdf

Frailty is a health condition associated with a lessened capacity to recover from stressing experiences, such as a fall or hospitalization, which can lead to poorer health outcomes. Increasing age is a risk factor for frailty; about 4% of people aged 65 to 69 are living with frailty, compared to 26% of those aged 85 and above (1). These individuals can experience fatigue, unintentional weight loss, mobility issues (2) or delirium (3), and are likely to have two or more chronic diseases and use many medications (3).

Proper action and collaboration of patients, caregivers and medical professionals can reduce negative health outcomes associated with frailty (3). Eating a balanced diet, increasing physical activity and maintaining social interaction can lead to better health outcomes and quality of life for those affected by frailty. For more information on healthy living, please review the materials under the “Healthy Lifestyles” tab in Caregiver Resources. Additionally, regular checkups with a healthcare professional, medication reviews and staying informed on frailty, help ensure a state of good health. If frailty or pre-frailty is a concern, please schedule an appointment with your family physician to discuss a personalized care plan. 


(1)  Collard, R. M., Boter, H., Schoevers, R. A., & Oude Voshaar, R. C. (2012). Prevalence of frailty in community‐dwelling older persons: A systematic review. American Geriatrics Society, 60(8), 1487-1492. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04054.x

(2)  Fried, L. P., Tangen, C. M., Walston, J., Newman, A. B., Hirsch, C., Gottdiener, J., . . . McBurnie, M.A. (2001). Frailty in older adults: Evidence for a phenotype. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 56(3), M146–M157. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/56/3/M146/545770

(3)  B.C. Ministry of Health. (2017). Frailty in older adults - Early identification and management. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/practitioner-professional-resources/bc-guidelines/frailty

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