This study estimated the prevalence of frailty and identified the factors associated with frailty in Taiwan using data from the Survey of Health and Living Status of the Elderly. A nationwide probability sample including 2,238 individuals aged > or =65 years was interviewed in 2003. Based on the Cardiovascular Health Study conducted by Fried, five phenotypes of frailty were selected: poor appetite, exhaustion, low physical activity, poor walking ability, and poor twisting ability of fingers. Participants were classified as nonfrail, prefrail, and frail if they met 0, 1 or 2, and > or =3 criteria. The prevalences of nonfrailty, prefrailty, and frailty were 55.1%, 40.0%, and 4.9%, respectively. The prevalence of frailty increased with age and was greater in women. Frailty was associated with less education, no spouse, disability, higher rates of comorbid chronic diseases, depressive symptoms, and geriatric syndromes. Specific drug use, such as hypnotics, analgesics, herbal drugs, and parenteral fluid supplements was positively associated with frailty. The use of multivitamins, fish oil, and vitamin E was negatively associated with frailty. The prevalence of frailty is lower in Taiwan than in Western countries. Depressive symptoms, geriatric syndromes, and specific medication use are potential fields for frailty prevention in community-dwelling older adults.
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