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International project to tackle frailty across Europe

Healthy Ageing

17 April 2015

A 2.3m euros project to tackle the escalating problem of frailty among Europe’s ageing population will be conducted by an international team of researchers.

Dr Carol Holland will lead a group of colleagues from Aston University, in collaboration with academics from Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, to help tackle the burden of frailty across Europe.

As people age, they gradually accumulate molecular and cellular damage, which frequently results in frailty and disease. Frailty is a state of high vulnerability that often has adverse health outcomes and is frequently associated with muscle wasting and weakness, a decrease in energy levels and unintended weight loss. People who are frail often require a high utilisation of health and community services.

The initiative, named ‘Frailty Management Optimisation through EIP AHA Commitments and Utilisation of Stakeholders Input’ or ‘FOCUS’, will seek to develop the early diagnosis, screening and management of frailty. The Programme will work to discover more efficient ways of detecting frailty and measuring its severity, including further researching biological and clinical markers.

Aston academics Dr Holland, Dr Rachel Shaw and Dr Richard Cooke will work with partners across Europe to integrate findings from frailty studies and interventions into frail peoples’ lifestyles. For the first time, they will include frail older adults and their carers in the appraisal of the interventions, listening to their issues and their responses to treatments and lifestyle interventions.

The different outcomes and care needs of people with cognitive and physical frailty will also be compared. Findings will be modelled against the economics of preventing or treating frailty in an effort to improve ongoing frailty interventions throughout Europe.

Dr Holland, Director of the Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA), said: “Healthcare systems have often struggled to treat frailty or to understand that it is more malleable than medical professionals may think. Together with developing new approaches in screening and diagnosis, the FOCUS team will put together new management guidelines to provide more information on regulatory pathways and the cost of frailty’s impact on the health economy, a vitally important subject in the context of Europe’s ageing population.”

The FOCUS project has developed from the work of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, which aims to increase average healthy lifespan in Europe by two years by 2020.

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For further media information, please contact Jonathan Garbett, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4552 or j.garbett@aston.ac.uk  

Notes for Editors: Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) takes a multidisciplinary approach to successful ageing by asking how technological, therapeutic and psychosocial strategies can be employed to understand and arrest age-related decline. Their mission is to facilitate research that helps understand, predict and prevent age-related degeneration.