High prevalence of geriatric syndromes in older adults.


INTRODUCTION:The geriatric syndromes of frailty, sarcopenia, weight loss, and dementia are highly prevalent in elderly individuals across all care continuums. Despite their deleterious impact on quality of life, disability, and mortality in older adults, they are frequently under-recognized. At Saint Louis University, the Rapid Geriatric Assessment (RGA) was developed as a brief screening tool to identify these four geriatric syndromes. MATERIALS AND METHODS:From 2015-2019, the RGA, comprised of the FRAIL, SARC-F, Simplified Nutritional Appetite Questionnaire (SNAQ), and Rapid Cognitive Screen (RCS) tools and a question on Advance Directives, was administered to 11,344 individuals ≥ 65 years of age across Missouri in community, office-based, hospital, Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), and nursing home care settings. Standard statistical methods were used to calculate the prevalence of frailty, sarcopenia, weight loss, and dementia across the sample. RESULTS:Among the 11,344 individuals screened by the RGA, 41.0% and 30.4% met the screening criteria for pre-frailty and frailty respectively, 42.9% met the screening criteria for sarcopenia, 29.3% were anorectic and at risk for weight loss, and 28.1% screened positive for dementia. The prevalence of frailty, risk for weight loss, sarcopenia, and dementia increased with age and decreased when hospitalized patients and those in the PACE program or nursing home were excluded. CONCLUSIONS:Using the RGA as a valid screening tool, the prevalence of one or more of the geriatric syndromes of frailty, sarcopenia, weight loss, and dementia in older adults across all care continuums is quite high. Management approaches exist for each of these syndromes that can improve outcomes. It is suggested that the brief RGA screening tool be administered to persons 65 and older yearly as part of the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Sanford, Angela M, John E Morley, Marla Berg-Weger, Janice Lundy, Milta O Little, Kathleen Leonard and Theodore K Malmstrom (2020). High prevalence of geriatric syndromes in older adults. PloS one, 15(6). p. e0233857. 10.1371/journal.pone.0233857 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21828.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Milta O Little

Associate Professor of Medicine

Dr. Milta Oyola Little has extensive experience in caring and advocating for older adults across care settings, including the entire post-acute and long-term care continuum, inpatient geriatric consultation, outpatient primary care/consultation, home care, and hospice. She currently serves as medical director for The Forest at Duke Continuing Care Retirement Community and for the North Carolina Longevity Health Plan institutional Special Needs Plan (a Medicare Managed Care insurance). Dr. Little has completed four elected board terms for AMDA: The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine and is the current President-Elect of The Society. Her primary scholarly interests are interprofessional education, deprescribing initiatives, and implementation of Dementia-Friendly and Age-Friendly Health System programs across settings of care. Dr. Little is currently working on the implementation of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy and development of clinical programs to address the longitudinal needs of PLWD and their caregivers in the Duke Health system.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.