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The Psychology of Frailty: An Identity Crisis Among the Elderly - Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation's Dr. Howard Fillit to Co-Chair Symposium

PARIS and NEW YORK, JULY 6 /PRNewswire/ -- "People are actually more afraid of frailty than they are of dying," says Dr. Howard Fillit, Executive Director of Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, but "most elderly people, unless they die suddenly, will go through a 4-6 year period of increasing frailty. People going through frailty often experience an identity crisis, much like a young person's identity crisis, that can impact their ability to adapt to this stage of life."

Dr. Fillit and Dr. Robert N. Butler will co-chair the "Psychology of Frailty Symposium" at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) World Congress in Paris on Tuesday, July 7, 2009. Drs. Fillit and Butler formulated the "Frailty Identity Crisis" framework in a paper originally published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (February 2009).

"Frailty, the next-to-last stage of life, can actually turn into a positive and rewarding time in one's life," says Dr. Fillit. "This can happen as long as an individual can adapt successfully to the new physical limits of dependency by setting realistic goals, embracing 'responsible dependency,' and settling into the wisdom of old age. By recognizing the 'frailty identity crisis,' the medical community can help patients and their caregivers work toward an adaptive, successful resolution."

But resolution is not possible with Alzheimer's patients, says Dr. Fillit. "Since Alzheimer's robs people of the ability to adapt psychologically, frailty becomes an insurmountable challenge - an atrophy of the future."

"For the 40% of people aged 80 and above with Alzheimer's disease, these last years of frailty and decline are far more tragic. Often, the last 7-10 years, or the final 10% of one's life, is spent in a state of progressive dependency with little redeeming value for the individual. In a way, this is the real tragedy of Alzheimer's disease: Life's book cannot be closed."

For more information about the "Frailty Identity Crisis," the Psychology of Frailty Symposium, or the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, or if you would like to speak with Dr. Fillit, please contact Davia Temin, Christine Summerson, or Trang Mar of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or

About Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF)

Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation ( is the only public charity whose sole mission is to fund drug discovery and development to prevent, treat, and cure Alzheimer's disease and cognitive aging. An affiliated public charity of the Institute for the Study of Aging (ISOA), a private foundation established by the Estee Lauder family in 1998, ADDF was established in 2004 to enable the public to work with the charity in advancing a common mission of supporting scientists pursuing drug discovery research for Alzheimer's disease, related dementias, and cognitive aging.

SOURCE Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF)
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