On April 10th 2018 The 7th Berliner Demografie Forum started. This two day international conference invites ILC Global Alliance yearly to contribute and organize a workshop about a relevant theme. This year’s theme was Global perspectives on Physical Frailty: a disabling condition in late life deserving more attention. We used the frailty definition of prof. dr. Linda Fried (2001) and in our databases we used the five indicators of frailty: exhaustion, weight loss, weakness, slowness and low physical activity. ILC USA, ILC France, ILC UK, ILC Japan and ILC The Netherlands contributed to this workshop. Prof. Ursula Staudinger, ILC USA, explained the syndrome of frailty, its definition and biological underpinnings. Her presentation was followed by four country studies on prevalence of physical frailty, the health care delivery approaches and outcomes of interventions. ILC UK used data of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA, 60+ years old) and dr. Brian Beach showed the prevalence of male and female together is 15% in wave 2004 and 2008. This percentage decreased to 14% in the wave 2012. ILC The Netherlands used data of the Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe (SHARE, 50+ years old). Prevalence of female and male together is 8%. Marieke van der Waal, MSc, showed this percentage does not change a lot in wave 2013 compared to wave 2004. ILC France also used SHARE database. Dr. Didier Halimi told the percentage of frailty is stable over the years as well and is around 10%. ILC Japan used data from the Obu Study of Health Promotion for the Elderly (65+ years old). Dr. Daisuke Watanabe presented frailty in Japan is 12.3% in women and 10.3% in man 65 years and older. In all countries the prevalence of frailty increases by age. Also comparisons are made by education level. All countries show similar results: the higher the education level the lower the prevalence. This means if we set up interventions it is good to focus extra on the older people with low education (often meaning low socio economic status). These people have the highest prevalence of frailty. Meanwhile the four country reports show a lot of interventions are done already. But often the outcome is disappointing. The workshop ended with a summary and conclusions of prof. dr. Ulrike Junius-Walker from Hannover Medical School . She is trained as general practitioner. She concluded interventions on GP-level and community/municipality level are a good approach. We have to gain more knowledge about the best moment for screening (age wise and decline of physical/mental condition). Also we need to search for best practices and a good indicator for change in outcome. This knowledge can be useful for the prevention of frailty.
Marieke van der Waal
Director ILC The Netherlands