As the population ages and more individuals are living well past age 80, maintaining a functional, independent, and high-quality life in the community will be an increasingly important goal for older adults and for society in general. Frailty is a syndrome of late-life decline and vulnerability that serves as a warning sign for adverse health outcomes and for mortality. The identification of vulnerable, frail, adults may allow for the development of preventive interventions that help to maintain good health and high quality of life well into the 8th and 9th decade of life. Over the past several years, investigators from across the country have been attempting to better define frailty through describing its clinical and biological characteristics. A number of clinical screening tools have been developed that help to identify the most vulnerable older adults, and inflammatory, muscle, and neuroendocrine dysregulation has been described as characteristic of frailty. In this edition of Clinical Geriatric Medicine, the authors have provided rich summaries of current models and definitions of frailty, of how age and chronic disease impact the development of frailty, and of how inflammation, anemia, the renin-angiotensin system, and immune system changes may impact or mark frailty. The final articles discuss potential clinical interventions that may benefit frail, older adults, including focused health care models and exercise interventions that may attenuate vulnerability. The articles in this issue were developed to help clinicians and investigators better understand the progress that has been made in this field, and to foster a broader research effort focused on the prevention and treatment of frailty.
© 2011 Elsevier Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.