Fathers’ Day 2021

This Father’s Day will be different for so many who have lost a dad, a son, a grandson, or a grandfather this year. COVID-19 has taken many more male lives than female and left more older adults of both genders with increased frailty from the exacerbation of chronic illnesses. One study observed that while men and women experienced the infection at the same rate, the odds of requiring intensive care and/or dying was three times higher for males than females. Furthermore, this is a statistic found worldwide and merits attention when developing strategies for clinical management and preventing the disease.

Frailty Facts and Fathers

COVID-19 is not the only disease that disproportionately has a negative impact on men. Worldwide, women live longer than their male counterparts, and this has been attributed to biology, social factors, and environment. Another study, evaluating the mortality disparity, noted that this gender gap did not always exist but has been the case throughout the 20th century, continuing to today. However, understandably, researchers want to know more.

In another study, the data of 1,953 patients were analyzed with the main endpoints of frailty prevalence, mortality rates and causes of death. Frailty prevalence was 5.4% in males, 8.8% in females with mortality rates of 22.5% for men and 8.5% for women.  Mortality rates were higher for males irrespective of their degree of frailty. Factors associated with frailty differ by gender, with higher frailty prevalence in females and higher mortality in males.

Also from this study and many others we learn that males are at significant risk for geriatric frailty if they are widowed/divorced/separated, have a low daily total calorie intake, are physically inactive, sleep >9 hours per night, smoke, and/or had 3 or more hospitalization in the past year.

Your Gift to a Father

On this Fathers’ Day, if you are fortunate to have a father or father figure in your life, it’s more important than ever to be aware of better ways to meet his needs and prevent further frailty. You can encourage him to do whatever is possible to prevent or mitigate frailty as a way of preventing the adverse outcomes associated with increasing frailty.

Considering the research into risk factors for frailty in males, some suggestions:

  • If your father is widowed/divorced/separated, preventing loneliness and isolation is key.
  • If he has a low daily total calorie intake, consider increasing his diet with favorite foods.
  • If he has limited physical inactivity, consider physical therapy or just walking.
  • If he sleeps >9 hours per night, suggest activities that might encourage more daytime waking. Discourage naps and drinking of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, especially late in the day. Promote good sleep hygiene, including consistent waking and sleep times.
  • If your father smokes, do everything possible to help him quit.
  • If your father is often hospitalized, discuss options for avoiding this with his clinician.

Our Gift to You

If you are new to the topic of frailty or if you would like to know where your father would be on the frailty trajectory, we suggest you assess him using the complimentary frailty assessment survey available online @ patientpattern.com/frailty/. It is easy to complete and provides important information on your father’s current health status.