Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

‘Thinking you're old and frail’: a qualitative study of frailty in older adults

  • KRYSTAL WARMOTH (a1) (a2), IAIN A. LANG (a1) (a2), CASSANDRA PHOENIX (a1), CHARLES ABRAHAM (a1) (a2), MELISSA K. ANDREW (a3), RUTH E. HUBBARD (a4) and MARK TARRANT (a1) (a2)...
Abstract

Many older adults experience what is clinically recognised as frailty but little is known about the perceptions of, and attitudes regarding, being frail. This qualitative study explored adults' perceptions of frailty and their beliefs concerning its progression and consequences. Twenty-nine participants aged 66–98 with varying degrees of frailty, residing either in their homes or institutional settings, participated in semi-structured interviews. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using a Grounded Theory approach. Self-identifying as ‘frail’ was perceived by participants to be strongly related to their own levels of health and engagement in social and physical activity. Being labelled by others as ‘old and frail’ contributed to the development of a frailty identity by encouraging attitudinal and behavioural confirmation of it, including a loss of interest in participating in social and physical activities, poor physical health and increased stigmatisation. Using both individual and social context, different strategies were used to resist self-identification. The study provides insights into older adults' perceptions and attitudes regarding frailty, including the development of a frailty identity and its relationship with activity levels and health. The implications of these findings for future research and practice are discussed.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      ‘Thinking you're old and frail’: a qualitative study of frailty in older adults
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      ‘Thinking you're old and frail’: a qualitative study of frailty in older adults
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      ‘Thinking you're old and frail’: a qualitative study of frailty in older adults
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Krystal Warmoth, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, St. Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK E-mail: kw317@exeter.ac.uk
References
Hide All
Andrew, M. K., Fisk, J. D. and Rockwood, K. 2012. Psychological well-being in relation to frailty: a frailty identity crisis? International Psychogeriatrics, 24, 8, 1347–53.
Borges, L. and Menezes, R. 2011. Definitions and markers of frailty: a systematic review of literature. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, 21, 1, 6777.
Charmaz, K. 1995. The body, identity, and self: adapting to impairment. The Sociological Quarterly, 36, 4, 657–80.
Charmaz, K. 2006. Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. Sage, London.
Clegg, A., Young, J., Iliffe, S., Rikkert, M. O. and Rockwood, K. 2013. Frailty in elderly people. The Lancet, 381, 9868, 752–62.
Coleman, P. 1999. Identity management in later life. In Woods, R. T. (ed.), Psychological Problems of Aging: Assessment, Treatment, and Care. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 93113.
Cotter, V. T. and Gonzalez, E. W. 2009. Self-concept in older adults: an integrative review of empirical literature. Holistic Nursing Practice, 23, 6, 335–48.
Fillit, H. and Butler, R. N. 2009. The frailty identity crisis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 57, 2, 348–52.
Fried, L. P., Ferrucci, L., Darer, J., Williamson, J. D. and Anderson, G. 2004. Untangling the concepts of disability, frailty, and comorbidity: implications for improved targeting and care. Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 59B, 3, 255–63.
Glaser, B. G. and Strauss, A. L. 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine, Chicago.
Grenier, A. 2005. The contextual and social locations of older women's experiences of disability and decline. Journal of Aging Studies, 19, 2, 131–46.
Grenier, A. 2006. The distinction between being and feeling frail: exploring emotional experiences in health and social care. Journal of Social Work Practice, 20, 3, 299313.
Grenier, A. 2007. Constructions of frailty in the English language, care practice and the lived experience. Ageing & Society, 27, 3, 425–45.
Grenier, A. and Hanley, J. 2007. Older women and ‘frailty’. Current Sociology, 55, 2, 211–28.
Heuberger, R. A. 2011. The frailty syndrome: a comprehensive review. Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics, 30, 4, 315–68.
Hummert, M. L. 2011. Age stereotypes and aging. In Schaie, K. W. and Sherry, L. W. (eds), Handbook of the Psychology of Aging. Academic Press, San Diego, California, 249–62.
Major, B., Mendes, W. B. and Dovidio, J. F. 2013. Intergroup relations and health disparities: a social psychological perspective. Health Psychology, 32, 5, 514–24.
Morley, J. E., Perry, H. M. and Miller, D. K. 2002. Something about frailty. Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 57B, 11, 698704.
Petrie, K. J., Jago, L. A. and Devcich, D. A. 2007. The role of illness perceptions in patients with medical conditions. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 20, 2, 163–7.
Puts, M. T. E., Lips, P. and Deeg, D. J. H. 2005. Sex differences in the risk of frailty for mortality independent of disability and chronic diseases. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 53, 1, 40–7.
Puts, M. T. E., Shekary, N., Widdershoven, G., Heldens, J. and Deeg, D. J. H. 2009. The meaning of frailty according to Dutch older frail and non-frail persons. Journal of Aging Studies, 23, 4, 258–66.
QSR International 2012. NVivo 10 [computer software]. QSR International, Melbourne.
Rockwood, K., Song, X., MacKnight, C., Bergman, H., Hogan, D. B., McDowell, I. and Mitnitski, A. 2005. A global clinical measure of fitness and frailty in elderly people. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 173, 5, 489–95.
Romero-Ortuno, R. and Kenny, R. A. 2012. The frailty index in Europeans: association with age and mortality. Age and Ageing, 41, 5, 684–9.
Searle, S. D., Mitnitski, A., Gahbauer, E. A., Gill, T. M. and Rockwood, K. 2008. A standard procedure for creating a frailty index. BMC Geriatrics, 8, 24.
Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. 1998. Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.
Weiss, D. and Lang, F. R. 2009. Thinking about my generation: adaptive effects of a dual age identity in later adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 24, 3, 729–34.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed