Research Story Tip: New Frailty Website and Twitter Account Seek Better Life, Health and Wellness For Seniors

05/28/2020

The United States is aging. According to projections by the Urban Institute, 80 million Americans — one in five — will be age 65 and older by the year 2040. One consequence of an older-growing population is frailty, the increased vulnerability with advancing age to medical and surgical complications, falls and risk of death.

To provide seniors, caregivers, researchers, health care professionals and others with user-friendly and informative resources about the relatively new discipline of frailty science and its value for the older nation to come, the Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center (JHOAIC) Frailty Science Program has launched a new website (frailtyscience.org) and Twitter account (@frailtyscience).

The comprehensive website consists of a frailty overview, surveys of both research and clinical topics, professional resources, patient and caregiver educational materials, and a blog (frailtyscience.org/blog-and-commentary). Both it and the active Twitter feed feature timely information about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on older adults.

One example of the wide variety of resources offered by the frailty science website is the online Johns Hopkins Frailty Assessment Calculator. This valuable tool gives clinicians and researchers a standardized method to consistently and accurately identify those patients who are most frail. The user enters five standardized measurements and receives an automatically generated score, yielding a classification of frail (score 3 to 5), pre-frail (score 1 or 2) or robust (score 0).

“The new website and Twitter account respond to an urgent need to get important state-of-the-art information on frailty out to a broad audience,” says Jeremy Walston, M.D., co-director of the JHOAIC and professor of geriatric medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We want to show how this science can have a positive effect on the health, lifespan and wellness of older adults.”

“Frailty, its identification, treatment and prevention, has been considered the major reason that geriatric medicine exists,” says Karen Bandeen-Roche, Ph.D., co-director of the JHOAIC and professor of biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her 2015 study found that frailty is present in nearly one out of every six noninstitutionalized older adults in the United States.

Jenna Mammen, M.D., M.Phil., Ph.D. and assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, sums up the goal of the new website and Twitter account by saying, “We hope to improve the understanding of how frailty develops, how to best assess it and how to best treat and prevent frailty-related decline.”

“In particular, the blog will explore areas where there is a knowledge gap in frailty and resiliency science — and where more discovery will benefit many,” she adds. “The website also will promote academic rigor in scientific inquiry.”

Moreover, the Frailty Science team hopes that the blog serves as a forum for presenting new insights and areas needing further investigation, and that the Twitter account engages stakeholders to share ideas and foster collaboration to expedite advances in frailty and resiliency research.

Tony Teano, communications and marketing specialist for the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, contributed to this news item.