Frailty and Geriatric Medicine During the Pandemic

Silvia Crosignani, Jacopo Fantinati, Matteo Cesari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The term frailty in the era of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has a manifold implication. The vast majority of the countries worldwide being hit by the pandemic have shown the frailty of their health and social care systems. Although the surprise factor could somehow justify the unpreparedness experienced during the first wave, the second wave still led to significant difficulties almost everywhere. Looking at Italy's situation, it is evident how the stress test applied by COVID-19 on the system has threatened its stability, getting it closer to collapsing many times. It is true that Italy, in particular the Northern regions, has been the epicenter of COVID-19 in Europe in a time when information about the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 was still lacking and confusing. Nevertheless, what happened has demonstrated significant issues in the structure, priorities, and organization of the system. It has exemplified the obsolete approach adopted in clinical practice, particularly when applied to frail older persons. The COVID-19 pandemic has made emerging the need for a substantial reshaping of our healthcare system. The hospital-centered model has dramatically failed. To adequately face the new challenges brought by the increasing complexity of our aging society, it is critical to move the barycenter of action toward the community/primary care, promoting the integration of services and centralization of clinical/administrative data. It is vital to train healthcare professionals in the identification and basic principles of geriatric conditions, clarifying the role that geriatricians play. In the present article, some cornerstone concepts of geriatric medicine (i.e., definition of geriatrics, multidisciplinarity, integrated care, and development of clinical databases for filling the evidence-based medicine gaps) are presented, explaining the challenges they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and possible solutions for implementing improvements in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673814
Number of pages4
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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