Frailty is associated with adverse outcomes, but few studies have determined associations between the frailty phenotype and measures of healthcare burden, including long-term care insurance (LTCI) costs, in older community-dwelling populations.
The aim of this study was to examine the association between frailty status and subsequent LTCI costs in Japanese community-dwelling older adults.
The prospective data were from a cohort study (National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology-Study of Geriatric Syndromes [NCGG-SGS]). The participants were community-dwelling older adults (mean age 71.8 years, women 50.7%) participating in an NCGG-SGS baseline examination held between August 2011 and February 2012 in Obu, Japan (N = 4,539). At baseline, we assessed the physical frailty phenotype using the Japanese version of the CHS criteria and categorized it as robust, pre-frail, or frail. We also ascertained care-needs certification and total costs using long-term care services in Japan’s public LTCI system during the 29 months.
During the 29-month follow-up period, 239 participants (5.3%) required the LTCI system’s care-needs certification and 163 participants (3.6%) used LTCI services. Participants classified as frail (odds ratio 5.85, 95% confidence interval 3.54-9.66) or pre-frail (2.40, 1.58-3.66) at the baseline assessment had an increased risk of requiring care-needs certification compared with robust participants. The mean total costs for LTCI services during the 29 months were ¥6,434 ($63.1) for robust, ¥19,324 ($189.5) for pre-frail, and ¥147,718 ($1,448.2) for frail participants (1 US dollar = 102 Japanese yen in July 2014). There were significantly higher costs associated with advancing frailty status. Individual frailty components (slowness, weakness, exhaustion, low activity, and weight loss) were also associated with higher total costs for using LTCI services.
Frail community-dwelling older adults had a higher risk of requiring the LTCI system’s care-needs certification and the subsequent total LTCI costs.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.