Frailty trajectory over one year among residential aged care (nursing home) residents

Renly Lim, Thu Lan Kelly, Andre Q. Andrade, Lisa M. Kalisch Ellett, Rebecca Bilton, Gereltuya Dorj, Nicole L. Pratt, Elizabeth E. Roughead

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Objectives: Large population-based studies examining frailty trajectory found a linear increase in frailty over time. The pattern in which frailty changes over time for an individual person is less well-described. We examined the frailty trajectory of older adults living in aged-care in Australia. 

Materials and methods: This secondary study used data from a randomised controlled trial involving 39 aged-care facilities in Australia. The trial intervention was an on-going pharmacist-led intervention occurring every 8 weeks over 12 months aimed at preventing medicine-induced deterioration and adverse reactions. Frailty was assessed using the Frailty Index. Participants were categorised as non-frail, pre-frail and frail. Individual frailty trajectory over 12 months was visualised using the alluvial plot. Case notes were examined to explore reasons for any rapid transitions in frailty status. 

Results: A total of 248 participants was included. At baseline, 40.3% were non-frail and 59.7% were pre-frail. The proportion of participants who were non-frail and pre-frail decreased over time; 15.7% were frail at 6 months and 23.4% were frail at 12 months. Overall, twenty different combinations of frailty transitions were identified over 12 months. Retrospective analysis of case notes suggest that death or transition from non-frail to frail was often preceded by hospitalisation, falls, medication change or clinically significant deterioration in grip strength or cognition. 

Conclusion: The degree of frailty increased over time, but there were variations in the individual trajectories. Regular monitoring of events that precede changes in frailty status is needed to identify strategies to prevent further deterioration in residents’ conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1010444
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cognition
  • frail older adult
  • mortality
  • nursing home
  • physical activity


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