All the current frailty measures count deficits. They differ chiefly in which items, and how many, they consider. These differences are related: if a measure considers only a few items, to define broad risks those items need to integrate across several systems (e.g. mobility or function). If many items are included, the cumulative effect of small deficits can be considered. Even so, it is not clear just how small deficits can be. To better understand how the scale of deficit accumulation might impact frailty measurement, we consider how age-related, subcellular deficits might become macroscopically visible and so give rise to frailty.