NHS England and Age UK have produced a booklet called ‘A Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing’ which is a supported self-care guide suitable for all older people, but intended for people with mild frailty (whether they know they have the condition or not!). The advice in this guide has been designed to address a number of evidence-based risk factors that have been confirmed as being associated with functional decline in older people.  The risk factors concerned are:

  • Alcohol intake;
  • Smoking;
  • Cognitive impairment;
  • Co-morbidity;
  • Falls;
  • Functional impairment;
  • Hearing problems;
  • Mood problems;
  • Nutritional compromise;
  • Physical inactivity;
  • Multiple medications;
  • Social isolation and loneliness.

All of these factors can exacerbate frailty and have an adverse effect upon quality of life. The guide translates these risk factors into areas where some practical advice can be given, covering many of the domains of frailty described in this toolkit. The areas of advice offered in the guide are:

  • Look after your feet;
  • Look after your eyes;
  • Look after your mouth;
  • Make you home safe;
  • Keep active;
  • Talk about your medicines;
  • Get your vaccinations;
  • Prevent falls;
  • Get your hearing tested;
  • Keep warm and well and get ready for winter;
  • Eat well and drink plenty;
  • Help with bladder and bowel problems;
  • Looking after your mental health and your brain;
  • Caring and looking after yourself too.

The guide also encourages people to make a ten point, personal action plan, with five actions that have been recommended for all older people, to which each individual is encouraged to add five things they have chosen to do for themselves. The content of the guide was created with input from focus groups to make sure that it is meaningful and acceptable for the intended audience of older people. It is designed to promote self-discovery and self-activation, by encouraging people living independently in their own homes to ‘self-diagnose’ the fact that they are ‘slowing down’, and to support empowerment and motivation by focusing upon steps people can take to help maintain their independence. Proactive self-care in early frailty is thought to slow the progression of the condition and therefore encourage widespread acceptance of the condition, and active engagement of people with early or emerging frailty offers great potential to improve quality of life for many older people.

Useful links:

Visit the NHS England webpage on Healthy Ageing

Visit the Age UK Health & Wellbeing webpages