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Early Warning Signs

FRAILTY - “Frailty in people with LD is a presentation of complex health needs, with life limiting reduction in functional ability, such as dysphagia, weight loss, frequent infections, reducing heart and lung function, pain, reducing mobility, falls and behavioural issues etc. People with learning disabilities experience this at a much earlier age and if care is not coordinated appropriately, patients are at risk of deterioration in physical and mental well-being.”

Source - Essex Learning Disability Partnership 2021.

‘Frailty’ is a term that’s used a lot but is often misunderstood. When used properly, it refers to a person’s mental and physical resilience, or their ability to bounce back and recover from events like illness and injury.’

Source: Age UK 2020

Possible Early Warning Signs

  • Increase in issues like UTI’s as this could indicate that their immune system is beginning to not work as well and could be the beginning of organ failure
  • Deterioration of eyesight/hearing because of the impact of ageing on sensory organs
  • Loss of memory due to the potential onset of dementia
  • Skin lesions/bruising due to the deterioration of skin and underlying tissue due to ageing
  • Loss of appetite, changes to diet/poor diet
  • Difficulties eating and drinking
  • Swallowing difficulties (Dysphagia)
  • changes in menstrual cycle
  • Menopause
  • Prostate – changes in continence, toilet habits
  • Multiply long-term health conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, cardio, respiratory
  • Frequent/Reoccurring infections
  • Frequent/reoccurring hospital admissions
  • Changes in recall of events
  • changes in health that may indicate a CHC checklist needs completing
  • Have they developed problems with their dental health?
  • Could be less engaged with others they live with and things that happen around them
  • Changes in communication skills
  • Could be less tolerant of other’s behaviours
  • Might be doing less for themselves
  • Might be losing everyday skills
  • Less interest in going out
  • Less interest in activities within their home
  • Less interest in joining in social activities with others with a potential to become isolated
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Deterioration in personal hygiene
  • Deterioration in self care
  • Is the person maintaining meaningful and consistent relationships with friends and family or is the person less engaged with others they live with and things that happen around them?
  • Are they being stimulated through interests and hobbies or social activities, or have they lost interest? 
  • Has there been changes to the persons communication skills?
  • Is the person less tolerant of other’s behaviours and less interested in doing things for themselves?
  • Showing signs of confusion/depression/anxiety
  • Decreasing or changing mobility due to loss of muscle tone and bone density
  • For people with LD there might also be reluctance to or difficulty rehabilitating after a fall
  • Has there been any changes/decline in the person’s physical activity?
  • Do they appear to be sleeping more than normal (e.g. naps during the day)
  • Have they lost interest in going out?
  • are there any subtle changes to their mobility e.g., do they walk less or more slowly?
  • Are they having increased falls?
Last updated: 16/06/2022