BACKGROUND: It is unclear whether frailty index (FI) change captures mortality risk better than and independently of the current FI level, i.e. whether a regular FI assessment among older adults provides additional insights for mortality risk stratification or not. METHODS: We used data from the LASA 75-PLUS-study, which monitored health among 508 older adults (75+) between 2016 and 2019 every 9 months. Joint models for longitudinal and time-to-event data were used to assess the impact of both current FI and within-person FI change during the last year on mortality risk. RESULTS: Twenty percent of the participants died during 4.5 years of follow-up. Adding within-person FI change to the current FI model improved model fit and it showed that FI increases during the last year were associated with an increase in mortality risk. Consequently, the effect of the current FI decreased considerably and became statistically non-significant. CONCLUSIONS: The rate of FI change was more important than the current FI level for short-term mortality prediction among the oldest old, which highlights the benefits of regular frailty assessments.