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Geography of Frailty

Mapping frailty will allow us to visualize the distribution of frailty in our community. Knowing where frailty is will allow us to target health service to where healthcare needs are required. Understanding the neighbourhood and its contribution to frailty will enable us to design new environments that support Healthy Ageing.

  • Inequalities in Neighbourhood Accessibility: Implications for Frailty and Healthy Ageing

    Lead Investigators: Dr Danielle Taylor

    Healthy ageing is dependent on a person’s ‘functional ability’ which comprises not only an individual’s intrinsic capacity (including health status, mobility and cognition), but also influences of their environment. For individuals to achieve and maintain their highest level of functional ability, the influence of both individual and environmental factors needs to be understood and the impact of negative influences, where possible, minimised.

    The creation of “age-friendly environments” has been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an important contributor to healthy ageing. This research will aim to understand the influence of environmental factors, as enablers or barriers to healthy ageing. It will have a particular focus on the role geographic access and locational disadvantage plays in facilitating or impeding an individual’s level of functional ability.

    Using geographic information technology, the research will also seek to develop an enhanced area level frailty risk index incorporating geographic demographic information and accessibility measures of relevance to frailty. This index can be used as a planning tool for the equitable and effective provision of services and community resources, ultimately facilitating the development of age-friendly environments.

    This work is supported by The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) mid-career fellowship grant.

    Media Contact: Dr Danielle Taylor

  • Australia’s Frail Population: Implications of Prevalence and Spatial on Health Services

    Lead Investigators: Dr Helen Barrie (Feist) and Dr Danielle Taylor

    The aim of this research is to understand the frailty burden for Australia’s population, and map this to inform current and future need for health services and create more informed health policies.

    One in four older people aged 85 years and older are frail. Projecting to 2050 (using ABS 2013), we estimate that almost 850,000 older Australians living in the community are likely to be frail. We have not undertaken the necessary research to be able to describe the distribution of frailty in Australia.  This component of the CRE work intends to understand the frailty burden for Australia’s population, and map this to inform current and future need for health services and create more informed health policies.

    Dr Danielle Taylor, and Chief Investigator Dr Helen Barrie (Feist), in conjunction with Prof Renuka Visvanathan and international investigator Dr Olga Theou will undertake research to determine the prevalence and spatial distribution of Australia’s frail and pre-frail population in the community and RAC, mapping this against current availability of services using Geographical Information Systems technologies. Research into spatial distribution of frailty is of particular value in determining not only the prevalence of the frail and pre-frail Australian population but also in where new services will be most needed and where new interventions could be most effectively rolled out. This mapping research will be a world’s first for frailty and similar methodology can be applied to international cohorts.

    Media Contact: Dr Helen Barrie (Feist)

  • Physical Activity and Frailty: Exploring Cross- cultural and Neighbourhood Influences

    Lead Investigators: PhD candidate Dr Beatriz Martins with supervisors Professor Renuka Visvanathan and Dr Helen Ruth Barrie

    Image on rightA major challenge worldwide will be the increase in the number of frail older adults living in our communities and how best to prevent or treat this condition. Frailty is defined as a being extremely vulnerable to minor insults, such as surgeries, hospitalization and acute disease, which result in a dramatic change in a person’s independence, worse quality of life and can even lead to a premature death. Being frail is not expected as a normal part of ageing and can be prevented or even reversed if the necessary interventions are taken. The major components of the treatment of frailty is physical activity and adequate nutrition. Promoting physical activity involves understanding the physical and built environment around an older person and my research will address what are the environmental opportunities and barrier of physical activity for frail, at-risk and fit older adults in two different populations: Japanese and Australian people. What are the cross-cultural differences between them? Also we will investigate the association of physical function and nutrient intake with body composition in frail Japanese and Australian.

    This work is supported by the Beacon of Enlightenment PhD Scholarship – Nagoya University Joint Award (University of Adelaide).

    Media Contact: Dr Helen Barrie (Feist)

Centre of Research Excellence in
Frailty and Healthy Ageing



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