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Frailty in the Old Age as a Direct Marker of Quality of Life and Health: Gender Differences

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Aging of the population emphasizes the need for research on aging-related problems, among which frailty is a key element because of its clinical as well as social implications. After a review of empirical research of frailty in old adults, the objective of this research is fourfold: (1) assess the adequacy of a comprehensive index of frailty; (2) test for the effects of different socioeconomic and anthropometric variables of an index of frailty; (3) study the effect of frailty on quality of life and general health; and (4) prove grounds for potential gender differences in all these concepts surrounding frailty as well as in frailty itself. This study relies on data from the SHARE project at wave 6, with a total of 4498 Spain-dwelling people aged 60 or older (M = 73.56, SD = 8.89), of which 46.1% were male and 53.9% were female. Statistical analyses included Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Full Structural Equation Models with multi-group comparison based upon gender. Results provide evidence of adequacy for this measure of frailty. Evidence shows how different variables have an impact on frailty, which further affects quality of life and health. Finally, gender differences are studied and discussed with previous literature. We conclude that results are consistent with previous literature on frailty in old people. Limitations and future research needs are also presented.

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The Authors want to thank the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through FP5 (QLK6-CT-2001-00360), FP6 (SHARE-I3: RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE: CIT5-CT-2005-028857, SHARELIFE: CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and FP7 (SHARE-PREP: No211909, SHARE-LEAP: No227822, SHARE M4: No261982). Additional funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01_AG09740-13S2, P01_AG005842, P01_AG08291, P30_AG12815, R21_AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG_BSR06-11, OGHA_04-064, HHSN271201300071C) and from various national funding sources is gratefully acknowledged (see www.share-project.org). This research has been partially funded by Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation & Universities, “Social Challenges Program” [RTI2018-093321-B-100]. Also by the Special Actions program from the Vice-Chancellor of Research, University of Valencia, [AE18-777619]. Dr. Trinidad Sentandreu-Mañó, Dr. Laura Badenes, Prof. Amparo Oliver, Prof. José M. Tomás and Irene Fernández are part of the research group Advanced Research Methods Applied to Quality of Life promotion (ARMAQoL), from the University of Valencia. Additionally, all these coauthors, together with Dr. Deborah J. Burks, belong to the Biogender Unit composed of the University of Valencia and Príncipe Felipe Research Center.

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Correspondence to Irene Fernández.

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Sentandreu-Mañó, T., Badenes-Ribera, L., Fernández, I. et al. Frailty in the Old Age as a Direct Marker of Quality of Life and Health: Gender Differences. Soc Indic Res (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-019-02246-1

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  • Old adults
  • Frailty
  • Quality of life
  • Health
  • Gender differences