Background: Frailty is a relatively new geriatric concept referring to an increased vulnerability to stressors. Various definitions have been proposed, as well as a range of multidimensional instruments for its measurement. More recently, a frailty phenotype that predicts a range of adverse outcomes has been described. Understanding frailty is a particular challenge both from a clinical and a public health perspective because it may be a reversible precursor of functional dependence. The Lausanne cohort Lc65+ is a longitudinal study specifically designed to investigate the manifestations of frailty from its first signs in the youngest old, identify medical and psychosocial determinants, and describe its evolution and related outcomes.
Methods/design: The Lc65+ cohort was launched in 2004 with the random selection of 3054 eligible individuals aged 65 to 70 (birth year 1934-1938) in the non-institutionalized population of Lausanne (Switzerland). The baseline data collection was completed among 1422 participants in 2004-2005 through questionnaires, examination and performance tests. It comprised a wide range of medical and psychosocial dimensions, including a life course history of adverse events. Outcomes measures comprise subjective health, limitations in activities of daily living, mobility impairments, development of medical conditions or chronic health problems, falls, institutionalization, health services utilization, and death. Two additional random samples of 65-70 years old subjects will be surveyed in 2009 (birth year 1939-1943) and in 2014 (birth year 1944-1948).
Discussion: The Lc65+ study focuses on the sequence "Determinants --> Components --> Consequences" of frailty. It currently provides information on health in the youngest old and will allow comparisons to be made between the profiles of aging individuals born before, during and at the end of the Second World War.