Attitudes to Ageing and Change in Frailty Status: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
Gale CR., Cooper C.
BACKGROUND: Older people with more negative attitudes to ageing are at increased risk of several adverse outcomes, including decline in physical function and increased difficulties with activities of daily living. OBJECTIVE: We investigated whether negative attitudes to ageing increase the risk of the onset or progression of frailty. METHOD: Participants were 3,505 men and women aged 60 years and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. They completed a 12-item questionnaire on attitudes to ageing. Exploratory factor analysis was used to examine the structure of these items, and a single factor was derived which we labelled "physical and psychological loss." Frailty was assessed by the Fried phenotype of physical frailty at waves 2 and 4, and by a frailty index at waves 2-5. RESULTS: Having a more positive attitude to ageing as regards "physical and psychological loss" was associated with a decreased risk of becoming physically frail or pre-frail at follow-up. For a standard deviation increment in score, the relative risk ratios (95% confidence interval), adjusted for age, sex and baseline level of physical frailty, were 0.86 (0.79, 0.94) for pre-frailty and 0.72 (0.63, 0.83) for frailty. Further adjustment for other potential confounding variables had only slight attenuating effects on these associations: multivariable-adjusted relative risk ratios were 0.89 (0.81, 0.98) for pre-frailty and 0.78 (0.68, 0.91) for frailty. Attitude to ageing was not associated with change in the frailty index over time after adjustment for potential confounding variables. CONCLUSION: Older people who have a more positive attitude to ageing are at reduced risk of becoming physically frail or pre-frail. Future research needs to replicate this finding and discover the underlying mechanisms. Attitude to ageing was not a risk factor for change in the more broadly defined frailty index.