The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the concept of Active Ageing in reaction the negative and purely economic discourse on ageing. Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. One of the most prominent barriers to active & healthy ageing is frailty. Although there is a lot of ongoing debate regarding the conceptual definition and operationalization of frailty, researchers generally agree that frailty is a dynamic, age-related condition characterized by a decline in homeostatic reserves in multiple physiological systems leading to decreased resistance to stressors and an increased risk of adverse health outcomes such as falls, hospitalization, diminished mobility, increasing disability in activities of daily living and ultimately early death. Those mentioned health risks not only lead to increasing health care utilization costs, but also put a strain on social security systems.
The Brussels study on the early predictors of frailty (BUTTERFLY) is a project of the interdisciplinary network "Gerontopole Brussels", that has been initiated by the Frailty in Ageing research (FRIA) and Belgian Ageing Studies (BAS) groups of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) bringing together 10 VUB research teams and the Department of Ageing and Life Course of the WHO.
BUTTERFLY is an explorative, observational cohort study aiming to identify new frailty/healthy ageing markers in elderly persons aged 80 and over and to determine their predictive value for the occurrence of frailty or maintenance of healthy ageing. Within the study, a large cohort of community dwellers aged 80 years and over (in July 2019 already n=500 included) are recruited. Non-frail subjects (i.e. robust on the Fried Phenotype, the Rockwood Frailty Index and the Groningen Frailty Indicator) are reassessed in a large test battery (medical, physical, psychological, social and environmental) for potential early markers of frailty every 6 months over a period of 2 years. The assessments take place at the University Hospital of Brussels in Jette.
The outcomes of this study will in different ways provide basis for further research opportunities and practical utilizations with regard to older people, enclosing interventions of specific treatments or new models of care. Moreover, findings will allow to proactively differentiate those elderly, who will remain fit and independent from those who are apparently fit but at risk of becoming frail. Future studies within the research program will focus on intervention trials to prevent/counter frailty in older persons aged 80 and over by targeting specifically early frailty markers and maintaining healthy ageing. Multiple scientific articles* have already been published by the Gerontopole Brussels consortium.
For questions or interest in our study you can contact prof. Ivan Bautmans on 02/477.42.08 or by email email@example.com
* see publications related to this project: