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Blog and Commentary

Safer Holiday Plans for Older and Vulnerable People

November 23, 2020
Anthony L. Teano, MLA
Anthony L. Teano, MLA

Communications Specialist
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

It should come as no surprise that observing the holidays will be different this year.  Here we outline important considerations about holiday gatherings during COVID-19 times, with special consideration to the health of older and more vulnerable relatives and friends. Continue Reading

Double Jeopardy for Older Adults of Color: An Urgent Call to Address Frailty Disparities in the United States

November 18, 2020
Karen Bandeen-Roche, PhD
Karen Bandeen-Roche, PhD

Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Chair of Biostatistics
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Co-Director, Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center
Faculty Profile

 Sarah L. Szanton, PhD, MSN, RN
Sarah L. Szanton, PhD, MSN, RN

FAAN, ANP
Professor
Endowed Professor for Health Equity and Social Justice
Director, Center for Innovative Care in Aging
Faculty Profile

Roland J. Thorpe, Jr., PhD
Roland J. Thorpe, Jr., PhD

Co-Director DrPH Concentration in Health, Equity, and Social Justice
Professor
Faculty Profile

Racial inequality that has been embedded in US structures and institutions has been exposed by twin catastrophes of 2020. In the height of the early novel coronavirus pandemic, Black, Latinx, and Native Americans were roughly 5 times as likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than their white peers, and Black Americans were twice as likely to die as whites (CDC COVID-19 Hospitalization by Race/Ethnicity, accessed 11/18/20). The killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others highlight the fact that people of color in the US continue to disproportionately experience police and vigilante violence along with other forms of inequality, including substandard housing, under-resourced schools, and restricted access to living-wage employment. Continue Reading

Overcoming the stress of selecting a frailty assessment instrument: guidance and considerations.

November 13, 2020
Brian Buta, MHS
Brian Buta, MHS

Project Administrator, Geriatric Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Faculty Profile

Research on frailty has exploded over the past two decades. A quick PubMed search of the term shows an exponential increase in the number of frailty-related publications since the early 2000s. But the concept of frailty can be diverse in its underlying theory and measurement... So how do we move past these challenges? Continue Reading

Healthy Voting is a Sacred Right

October 15, 2020
Anthony L. Teano, MLA
Anthony L. Teano, MLA

Communications Specialist
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Everyone in our clinician and researcher community is invited to share vote-by-mail information with their patients and families.  This blog offers a summary of ways to help older people get out their votes as safely as possible in 2020, and it provides a voter’s personal experience on the ease of using a vote-by-mail ballot at a community-based official election ballot drop box. Continue Reading

Self-Efficacy as a Tool for Older Adults to Cope with Coronavirus

September 17, 2020
Melissa deCardi Hladek, PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC
Melissa deCardi Hladek, PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC

Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing Faculty
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
Faculty Profile

JS is a 72 year-old caregiver to her 75 year-old husband with advanced heart failure.  She usually brings him in to clinic every 3 months.  In April, she was able to conduct a telemedicine visit with the heart failure clinic. She said her grand-daughter had face-timed with her from out of state and talked her through using the computer to connect to the electronic record, but she had to search for her glasses to read the weight chart to the provider, as she could not scan and upload it. And she got flustered manipulating the camera to show his degree of edema. She requested refills but, she expressed a sincere fear of going to the pharmacy to pick-up the medications, where there may be sick people.  JS is not alone in the adaptations she is making or the stress she feels from having to do so.  Even formerly routine activities of daily living like grocery shopping feel oddly intense, full of new rules and routines. This is not normal time; this is pandemic time, and the impacts on health are likely to be significant even in those who never get COVID-19.  Continue Reading

Motivation Matters: A Socratic Inquiry into Frailty

September 01, 2020
Ravi Varadhan, PhD, PhD
Ravi Varadhan, PhD, PhD

Associate Professor of Oncology, Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Faculty Profile

This post explores Dr. Ravi Varadhan’s motivations for writing “A Socratic Inquiry Into the Nature of Frailty,” published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in 2019. Continue Reading

Brain-Related Symptoms of COVID-19 in Frail, Older Adults

July 13, 2020
Jeremy Walston, MD
Jeremy Walston, MD

Raymond and Anna Lublin Professor of Geriatric Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Co-Director, Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center
Faculty Profile

Please note: this post serves an addendum to the previous blog, Accelerated Frailty and COVID-19.  Colleagues from Johns Hopkins University recently published an important paper (Bullen et al., 2020) the demonstrated that COVID-19 can infect brain cells  The study points out that neurons also have the ACE 2 receptor on their surface, necessary to transfer COVID-19 into a cell.  These findings provide a potentially important explanation for some of the more common brain-related symptoms of COVID-19 infections that we see in frail, older adults.  Continue Reading

Accelerated Frailty and COVID-19: Musings from the COVID Unit at Hopkins Bayview

July 01, 2020
Jeremy Walston, MD
Jeremy Walston, MD

Raymond and Anna Lublin Professor of Geriatric Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Co-Director, Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center
Faculty Profile

Over the past two months, I’ve worked on several occasions as the attending physician on a non-ICU COVID unit at Hopkins Bayview where I treated several older adult patients.  Although many of them had some level of COVID-related pneumonia, many others presented to the hospital in unexpected ways.  One of the more common ‘alternative’ presentations that I observed was one that looks like accelerated frailty with none of the other common signs or symptoms of COVID.  The following clinical presentation represents an amalgam of several patients who presented in this way, and a few thoughts on how COVID infections could provide researchers and clinicians alike important insights into frailty, its etiologies and its potential treatments.  Continue Reading

Frail Older Patients in the Emergency Department: Considerations during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

May 29, 2020
Philip Magidson, MD
Phillip Magidson, MD

Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Geriatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Faculty Profile

Consider the following hypothetical scenario from the experiences of an emergency medicine physician: An 84-year-old man is transferred to the emergency department (ED) from a skilled nursing facility (SNF) following three days of mild shortness of breath and non-productive cough. His past medical history includes mild dementia, COPD on home oxygen (4 liters per minute), and atrial fibrillation on anticoagulation and hypertension. The emergency medicine providers have no advanced care directives from the patient’s SNF. On arrival, the patient is awake and alert with a slight increase in work of breathing. The patient’s triage vital signs show a slightly elevated temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate which together with oxygen readings are consistent with a likely respiratory infection; blood pressure of 115/80 is within the range considered normal. His pulmonary exam demonstrates bilateral wheezing. In the Spring of 2020, the above patient commonly presents to the emergency department (ED) where a concern for COVID-19 is at the top of the list of possible problems. Continue Reading

Welcome to the conversation on Frailty Science.

May 04, 2020
Karen Bandeen-Roche, PhD
Karen Bandeen-Roche, PhD

Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Chair of Biostatistics
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Co-Director, Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center
Faculty Profile

Jeremy Walston, MD
Jeremy Walston, MD

Raymond and Anna Lublin Professor of Geriatric Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Co-Director, Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center
Faculty Profile

Welcome to the Frailty Science blog!    Whether you are a researcher, clinician, student, policy maker, advocate, older adult, or caregiver—we hope you will find something interesting or useful on the site. We aim to provide a gateway to information for those seeking to learn more about frailty, vulnerability and resiliency in older adults. We hope you will enjoy checking in for the latest frailty-related findings, evidence-based reporting on research and clinical topics, best-practice recommendations from national and international organizations, and guidance on frailty assessment instruments. Continue Reading