Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


How to meet the challenge of ageing populations

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 20 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3815

Rapid Response:

The frailty phantom

We agree with the editors about the increase in the number of oldest people in the
world carrying global consequences, economic and social, and for health
systems; those consequences will exaggerate in the future.
We must promote active and successful ageing in order to diminish the
effects that disability and dependence frequently have on older people.

Frailty, a clinical syndrome associated with non-successful ageing,
increases its frequency in older adults in developed
countries, with adverse health outcomes such as disability,
institutionalization, dependence and death. The prevention and detection
on time of frailty syndrome must be one of the future interventions if we
want to minimize its consequences.

It is clear, that present and future strategies to face
demographic ageing cannot be only in a geriatric form: we have to give to
other specialists the attributes and lineaments of geriatricians, with
special focus on healthy life style promotion, and also consider the
frail elderly person as a target point for geriatric care (1).

The culture of modern society is not to focus on the consequences of ageing. However, promoting health and activity in old age with integral education for everyone to prepare for ageing will help people to face this life stage without one of its ghosts: frailty (2).


Julio C. Romero, Angel J. Romero


1. Romero AJ. Current perspectives on health care for the older adult. Rev
Panam Salud Publica 2008; 24(4): 288-94.

2. Romero AJ. Frailty: an emerging geriatric syndrome. Medisur 2010; 8(6):

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 July 2011
Julio C. Romero
Angel J. Romero, MD PhD
New Orleans, Loiusiana