BACKGROUND: Frailty was shown to be associated with psychosocial risk factors, but there are few longitudinal data.
METHODS: We used data from waves 5 and 6 of the Survey of Health Aging Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to study the contribution of loneliness and social isolation to transitions towards frailty defined according to Fried criteria in a sample of 27,468 individuals aged ≥60.
RESULTS: At baseline, there were 13,069 (47.6%) robust individuals, 11,430 (41.6%) pre-frail and 2,969 (10.8%) frail. After 2 years, among robust subjects at baseline, 8,706 (61.8%) were still robust, 4,033 (30.8%) were pre-frail and 330 (2.6%) were frail. Among those who were pre-frail, 1,504 (13.2%) progressed to frail and 3,557 (31.1%) became robust. Among frail people, 182 (6.1%) reversed to robust and 1,271 (42.8%) to pre-frail. Average and high levels of loneliness and social isolation were significantly associated with the risk of robust people becoming frail and pre-frail (except robust with high loneliness to become frail), and of pre-frail people to become frail (except with average loneliness). Reversion to robustness was inversely associated with high levels of loneliness.
CONCLUSION: Average levels of loneliness and social isolation should not be considered acceptable and should be actively addressed even in the absence of any health conditions through an available evidence-based intervention.
- Frail Elderly
- Social Isolation
- older people
- social isolation