The significance of Frailty Syndromes as a presenting or contributory cause in older people with frailty requiring emergency services should not be underestimated. The early recognition and timely management of frailty syndromes and their underlying cause in the acute setting promotes good outcomes; delays in diagnosis, especially within the first 24 hours, result in poorer outcomes including longer hospitalisation, delayed discharge, irreversible damage and increased mortality.

For example, the symptom of immobility in a person with frailty may be due to a heart attack rather than a worsening of their arthritis, even in the absence of other supporting symptoms, so a more careful and wide-ranging clinical assessment should always be considered.

The 5 frailty syndromes were previously known as the ‘geriatric giants’ and are:

  1. Delirium
  2. Falls
  3. Immobility
  4. Incontinence
  5. Medication side-effects

Click on each syndrome to find out more information.