Background: Frailty is a complex health state of increased vulnerability associated with adverse outcomes such as disability, falls, hospitalization, and death. Along with physical impairments, cognition and quality of life may be affected in frail older adults. Yet, evidence is still lacking. The aim of this study was to compare frail and non-frail older adults on physical, cognitive, and psychological dimensions.
Methods: Thirty-nine frail and 44 non-frail elders were compared on several measures of physical capacity, cognition, and quality of life. Frailty status was based on a geriatric examination and scored using the Modified Physical Performance Test.
Results: After controlling for demographic and medical characteristics, physical capacity measures (i.e. functional capacities, physical endurance, gait speed, and mobility) were significantly lower in frail participants. Frail participants showed reduced performances in specific cognitive measures of executive functions and processing speed. On the quality of life dimension, frail elders reported poor self-perceptions of physical capacity, cognition, affectivity, housekeeping efficacy, and physical health.
Conclusion: In addition to the reduced physical capacity, frailty might affect selective components of cognition and quality of life. These dimensions should be investigated in intervention programs designed for frail older adults.