Social frailty interventions that can best support vulnerable older adults during the COVID‑19 pandemic: A rapid review
By the year 2050, two billion people worldwide will be 60 years of age and older. Global life expectancies are also on the rise, leading to an increased number of seniors who will develop chronic conditions and frailty. Given these projections, frailty is fast becoming a public health concern. Frailty is multidimensional (it affects biological, psychological, and social processes of a person’s life), and therefore can lead to reduced functional ability, falls, disability, decreased quality of life, and death. Of the three types of frailty (physical, psychological, and social), social frailty is the least well understood. It is defined as “a continuum of being at risk of losing, or having lost, social and general resources, activities or abilities that are important for fulfilling one or more basic social needs during the life span”. During public health emergencies such as COVID-19, social vulnerabilities such as social frailty represent an even greater threat to the health of older adults. However, we know very little about the risk factors and interventions that may prevent or reverse social frailty. Therefore, our research goals are to better understand interventions addressing social frailty in older adults by conducting a systematic review and a realist review. The results of this work will help decision makers understand which social frailty interventions can best address the needs of vulnerable older adults impacted by isolation during COVID‑19 or other disease outbreaks requiring similar public health measures.