“GPs should prescribe protein powders and weight lifting to pensioners to help reverse frailty,” The Daily Telegraph reports.
While there is no exact definition of frailty, it is usually used as an umbrella term to describe a range of linked age-related factors such as lack of energy, unintentional weight loss, slow walking speed and reduced grip strength.
Frailty among older adults is a growing problem. It can affect peoples’ ability to carry out everyday activities, have a negative impact on quality of life and increase the risk of other health problems. Under UK government recommendations GPs are required to have systems in place to help identify people living with frailty. But how to provide effective care and support once people are identified is another issue.
A new review looked at 46 individual studies on the effectiveness of different interventions for frailty. The studies were highly varied with interventions ranging from different forms of physical activity to medication, education and nutrition supplements. Overall increased strength training and increased protein intake – either in the form of protein-rich foods or supplements – were the 2 interventions rated highest in terms of effectiveness and ease of implementation.
The findings are generally in-keeping with physical activity guidelines for older adults who, just like everyone else, should do strengthening exercises that work all major muscle groups on at least 2 days per week (combined with aerobic exercise). A healthy and balanced diet is also essential, and protein is a vital component necessary for growth and repair in the body.