Can physical training and social support reduce fraility and malnutrition?

A new study reported in Science Digest concluded that a training program for the reactivation of older and frail people that included physical training and addressing nutritional-relevant aspects with the aid of non-professional volunteers at home has had positive effects on the physical condition and especially the social aspects of elderly frail people.

Previous studies showed that 11% of the over age 65 in Austria are frail, and 41% are pre-frail. Frailty was defined as reduced muscle mass and/or muscle power, malnutrition (undernourished or overeating), and chronic inflammation that is associated with health problems. .   In this study volunteers visited frail or malnourished people (average age 83 years) in their homes twice a week for a period of 12 weeks. The skilled volunteers trained together with the frail people (strength training with a Thera ribbon) and discussed nutrition related aspects. An active control group also received visits, but without nutrition or exercise training. After 12 weeks recorded results showed a significant improvement in the frail status and malnutrition frail group in which impaired nutrition was reduced by 25% and frailty was reduced by 17%. Interestingly, the control group who received social support only showed improvement with 23% less impaired nutrition and 16% less frailty. Researchers mad two major conclusions: that an active social life and social contacts are important for people to remain autonomous for as long as possible, and trained nonprofessional volunteers achieve similar good results with such a program as those conducted by professionals.

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