Detection of high psychological frail community dwelling older people using socioeconomic indicators


Lieve J. Hoeyberghs1,2, Nico De Witte1,2, Emily Verté1, Dominique Verté2, Jos M. G. A. Schols3

Aim: Population aging is a worldwide fact. Moreover, people prefer “aging in place.” Thereby, detection of frail community dwelling older people is a challenge. Previous research showed that psychological frailty contributes most to the overall feelings of frailty, pointing toward the necessity of detection. The main purpose of this study is to explore socioeconomic risk factors of psychological frailty in later life. Methods: A cross-sectional study (N = 28,245) using data collected by the Belgian Aging Studies was executed. Psychological frailty was measured using the Comprehensive Frailty Assessment Instrument, more specifically, mood disorders and emotional loneliness. Chi-square tests were used to investigate the relation between psychological frailty and socioeconomic indicators. In order to get an insight into the hierarchical order of the variables associated with high psychological frailty, a Chi-squared Automatic Interaction Detector (CHAID)-analysis was applied. Results: The risk factors for high psychological frailty were female, low education, and inadequate financial resources. Concerning gender, high psychologically frail women were more often widowed and had a lower educational and income level than high psychologically frail men. Conclusion: Results of CHAID analyses showed that being divorced or widow(ed), having difficulties to make ends meet, and being a woman were the most important variables associated with high psychological frailty in community dwelling older people. Referring to socioeconomic risk factors associated with psychological frailty in later life, asking whether the older person has difficulties to make ends meet, may point to psychological frailty.