Screening for Frailty in Canada's Health Care System: A Time for Action

Can J Aging. 2016 Sep;35(3):281-97. doi: 10.1017/S0714980816000301. Epub 2016 May 23.


As Canada's population ages, frailty - with its increased risk of functional decline, deterioration in health status, and death - will become increasingly common. The physiology of frailty reflects its multisystem, multi-organ origins. About a quarter of Canadians over age 65 are frail, increasing to over half in those older than 85. Our health care system is organized around single-organ systems, impairing our ability to effectively treat people having multiple disorders and functional limitations. To address frailty, we must recognize when it occurs, increase awareness of its significance, develop holistic models of care, and generate better evidence for its treatment. Recognizing how frailty impacts lifespan will allow for integration of care goals into treatment options. Different settings in the Canadian health care system will require different strategies and tools to assess frailty. Given the magnitude of challenges frailty poses for the health care system as currently organized, policy changes will be essential.

Keywords: aging; assessment; de dépistage; fragilité; frailty; health care system; outcomes; résultats; screening; système de santé; vieillissement; évaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Assisted Living Facilities*
  • Canada
  • Critical Care*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Health Policy
  • Health Status
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical