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Objective To determine the prevalence of frailty and identify factors associated with frailty in elderly Buddhist monks in Chiang Mai Province.
Methods This cross-sectional descriptive study of elderly Buddhist monks (age ≥60 years) with a Barthel ADL score ≥12 living at temples in Muang District was conducted during the period 1 May through 30 June 2018. Each participating monk was interviewed and given a physical examination which included an assessment of frailty (using a modified version of the Fried’s Frailty Phenotype) as well as an assessment of their current health status. Factors potentially associated with frailty were analyzed using Chi-square test and Fisher’s exact test. Statistical analysis was done with SPSS for Windows version 22 software.
Results Of the 135 elderly Buddhist monks, most (80.0%) were in a state of pre-frailty and 7.4% were in a state of frailty. Positive criteria for frailty were low grip strength (85.2%), self-reported exhaustion (17.8%), slow walking speed (17.0%), low level of physical activity (4.4%) and unintentional weight loss (3.0%). Diabetes mellitus, polypharmacy, hospitalization in the past year, and abnormalities in the heart or extremities were statistically significantly associated with frailty (p<0.05).
Conclusion Most of the elderly Buddhist monks in the study were in a state of pre-frailty. Activities designed to increase grip strength and walking speed could potentially improve the health of these monks. A combination of frailty screening and comprehensive geriatric assessment should be used to evaluate the condition of each monk and identify appropriate treatment.