Introduction: Frailty is considered as an early stage of disability which, differently from disability, is still amenable for preventive interventions and is reversible. In 2011, the "Geriatric Frailty Clinic (G.F.C) for Assessment of Frailty and Prevention of Disability" was created in Toulouse, France, in association with the University Department of General Medicine and the Midi-Pyrénées Regional Health Authority. This structure aims to support the comprehensive and multidisciplinary assessment of frail older persons, to identify the specific causes of frailty and to design a personalized preventive plan of intervention against disability. In the present paper, we describe the G.F.C structure, organization, details of the global evaluation and preventive interventions against disability, and provide the main characteristics of the first 1,108 patients evaluated during the first two years of operation.
Methods: Persons aged 65 years and older, considered as frail by their physician (general practitioner, geriatrician or specialist) in the Toulouse area, are invited to undergo a multidisciplinary evaluation at the G.F.C. Here, the individual is assessed in order to detect the potential causes for frailty and/or disability. At the end of the comprehensive evaluation, the team members propose to the patient (in agreement with the general practitioner) a Personalized Prevention Plan (PPP) specifically tailored to his/her needs and resources. The G.F.C also provides the patient's follow-up in close connection with family physicians.
Results: Mean age of our population was 82.9 ± 6.1 years. Most patients were women (n=686, 61.9%). According to the Fried criteria, 423 patients (39.1%) were pre-frail, and 590 (54.5%) frail. Mean ADL (Activities of Daily Living) score was 5.5 ± 1.0. Consistently, IADL (Instrumental ADL) showed a mean score of 5.6 ± 2.4. The mean gait speed was 0.78 ± 0.27 and 25.6% (272) of patients had a SPPB (Short Physical Performance Battery) score equal to or higher than 10. Dementia was observed in 14.9% (111) of the G.F.C population according to the CDR scale (CDR ≥2). Eight percent (84) presented an objective state of protein-energy malnutrition with MNA (Mini Nutritional Assessment) score < 17 and 39.5% (414) were at risk of malnutrition (MNA=17-23.5). Concerning PPP, for 54.6% (603) of patients, we found at least one medical condition which needed a new intervention and for 32.8% (362) substantial therapeutic changes were recommended. A nutritional intervention was proposed for 61.8% (683) of patients, a physical activity intervention for 56.7% (624) and a social intervention for 25.7% (284). At the time of analysis, a one-year reassessment had been carried out for 139 (26.7%) of patients.
Conclusions: The G.F.C was developed to move geriatric medicine to frailty, an earlier stage of disability still reversible. Its particularity is that it is intended for a single target population that really needs preventive measures: the frail elderly screened by physicians. The screening undergone by physicians was really effective because 93.6% of the subjects who referred to this structure were frail or pre-frail according to Fried's classification and needed different medical interventions. The creation of units like the G.F.C, specialized in evaluation, management and prevention of disability in frail population, could be an interesting option to support general practitioners, promote the quality of life of older people and increase life expectancy without disability.