Objective: to examine the prevalence of frailty and disability in people aged 60 and over and the proportion of those with disabilities who receive help or use assistive devices.
Methods: participants were 5,450 people aged 60 and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Frailty was defined according to the Fried criteria. Participants were asked about difficulties with mobility or other everyday activities. Those with difficulties were asked whether they received help or used assistive devices.
Results: the overall weighted prevalence of frailty was 14%. Prevalence rose with increasing age, from 6.5% in those aged 60-69 years to 65% in those aged 90 or over. Frailty occurred more frequently in women than in men (16 versus 12%). Mobility difficulties were very common: 93% of frail individuals had such difficulties versus 58% of the non-frail individuals. Among frail individuals, difficulties in performing activities or instrumental activities of daily living were reported by 57 or 64%, respectively, versus 13 or 15%, respectively, among the non-frail individuals. Among those with difficulties with mobility or other daily activities, 71% of frail individuals and 31% of non-frail individuals said that they received help. Of those with difficulties, 63% of frail individuals and 20% of non-frail individuals used a walking stick, but the use of other assistive devices was uncommon.
Conclusions: frailty becomes increasingly common in older age groups and is associated with a sizeable burden as regards difficulties with mobility and other everyday activities.
Keywords: assistive devices; disability; frailty; older people.
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