PURPOSE: The goal of this work was to characterise and distinguish persons without (fit), with earliest signs (pre-frail) or accelerated functional decline (frail) during self-referral (geriatric centre) or preventive home visits.
METHODS: After screening independently living older people in an urban longitudinal cohort (n = 1,995) using a self-administered questionnaire, they were functionally classified as fit, pre-frail or frail. In 10% randomly selected samples of these cohort parts a comprehensive extended gerontological-geriatric assessment (EGGA) was administered.
RESULTS: Fit, pre-frail and frail samples are significantly different regarding comorbidity, medication, mobility, fall risk, instrumental activities of daily living and use of social support but not nutrition. The best indicator to discriminate fit versus frail was exhaustion (mobility tiredness).
CONCLUSION: Competence is essential regarding health in old age. Identification of resources and risks by comprehensive assessment is useful before planning interventions to prevent frailty or its progression.