Older people living with frailty

Frailty is a loss of resilience that means people living with frailty do not bounce back quickly after a physical or mental illness, an accident or other stressful event.

In clinical terms, frailty is characterised by loss of biological reserves across multiple organ systems and increasing vulnerability to physiological decompensation after a stressor event.

People living with frailty are likely to have a number of different issues or problems, which, taken individually, might not be very serious but when added together have a large impact on health, confidence and wellbeing.

  • The overall prevalence of frailty in people aged over 60 is 14% and it tends to be more common in women (ELSA (2016))
  • 5% of people aged 60-69 have frailty. This rises to 65% in people aged over 90.  In England there are 1.8 million people aged over 60 and 0.8 million people aged over 80 living with frailty (ELSA (2016))
  • Frailty is linked with poor mobility, difficulty doing everyday activity, or simply ‘slowing up’
  • Frailty results in large increases in the health cost for care settings such as inpatient, outpatient and nursing homes
  • Frailty progresses with age.  As the population of England ages the prevalence and impact of frailty is likely to increase.

GP practice resources

We have developed some useful resources for GP practices to help in managing frailty:

Find out more

For more information contact us at england.clinicalpolicy@nhs.net