When you haven’t seen an elderly relative for some time, you may notice a change in their health or ability to cope at home.

However, it’s much more challenging for family members and health care professionals who see someone regularly to assess a senior’s level of frailty and the associated risks to their health and well-being.

Thanks to a $1.38 million grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), researchers from Fraser Health are testing an innovative electronic tool that could make it much easier to measure and track frailty in seniors.

The research team is led by principal investigator Dr. Xiaowei Song, a neuro-imaging expert who has studied frailty index for 15 years. Dr. Song has previously received research funding from Surrey Hospital Foundation and works in the Fraser Health/Simon Fraser University NeuroTech and ImageTech Labs at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

“We are so proud that Dr. Song’s work has been recognized by Canada’s premier research funding agency,” says Foundation President & CEO Jane Adams. “This achievement underlines the importance of supporting research locally, and the calibre of some of the scientists that we have working in our own backyard.”

The goal of the newly funded project is to research and test the validity of the electronic Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment – Frailty Index (eFI-CGA). This tool is embedded into an electronic medical record, where it can be used as a benchmark to assess vulnerable seniors and provide faster and more individualized treatment options.

The team working on this project includes: Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, a world leader in frailty research from Dalhousie University; Fraser Health’s Annette Garm, Executive Leader of CARES (Community Actions and Resources Empowering Seniors); and Dr. Grace Park, Regional Medical Director.

For more information visit the Fraser Health website.