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Common conditions and frailty

On this page, you’ll find expert resources to help you when working with older people living with frailty. We’ve categorised them by some of the most common conditions and life events older people experience.

General health

As people age their health needs change, but there are practical steps people can take at any age to improve their health and reduce their risk at frailty.

Useful resources

A Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing

This guide aims to provide advice to people around the age of 70 and above, but can be helpful to people of any age.

A Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing

A Practical Guide to Healthy Caring

60% of older carers (aged 60-94) have long-term health problems or a disability themselves, so it is very important that people who care also take time for their own health. This guide provides some practical advice for people who look after a friend or family member, or provide regular support to someone.

A Practical Guide to Healthy Caring

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Malnutrition and dehydration

Malnutrition (under-nutrition) affects around 1 in 10 older people and is a risk factor for frailty. Older people who are malnourished are more likely to visit their GP, be admitted to hospital and have longer recovery times from illness or surgery. Unintentional weight loss in older adults often goes unnoticed until it severely affects a person's health and wellbeing.

Older people are also more at risk of dehydration. Although there is little data on the reach and extent of dehydration, it appears to be widespread among older people and is one of the most common reasons why an older person is admitted to hospital. Dehydration is also associated with increased risk of urinary tract infections, falls and pressure ulcers. Diagnosing dehydration in older people can be challenging, and signs and symptoms are often mistaken for other age-related conditions, including dementia.

Useful resources

State of the Nation: Older people and malnutrition in the UK today

Produced by the Malnutrition Task Force, this provides a snapshot from across the health and social care system of what is happening to older people who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

State of the Nation: Older people and malnutrition in the UK today

NHS England Guidance on commissioning excellent nutrition and hydration 2015-2018 

Provides guidance for commissioners to improve the nutrition and hydration needs of their population.

Guidance on commissioning excellent nutrition and hydration 2015-2018

The Hydr8 Toolkit 

Produced by Kent Surrey Sussex AHSN, Wessex AHSN and NE Hants and Farnham CCG, this toolkit provides practical guidance for staff working in care homes or carers in the community to improve hydration among older people in their care.

The Hydr8 Toolkit

NHS Inform

Information on hydration and dehydration, including tips to stay hydrated.

NHS Inform

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Falls and fractures are a common and serious health issue faced by older people. Falls are the main cause of a person losing their independence and going into long-term care. After a fall, the fear of falling can lead to more inactivity, loss of strength, loss of confidence and a greater risk of further falls. 

Useful resources

Age UK falls prevention guide

Explains the evidence base for falls prevention exercises and outlines the benefits of exercise programmes.

Falls prevention guide

Age UK falls prevention online information

Information for older people and carers

Preventing falls

Age UK's Don’t mention the F word 

Provides advice to practitioners on communicating falls prevention messages to older people.

Don't mention the F word

Falls and Fragility Fractures Pathway

Produced by NHS RightCare, this defines the core components of optimal services for people who have suffered a fall or are at risk.

Falls and Fragility Fractures Pathway

Public Health England resources

Consensus statement 

Resource pack on falls and fractures.

Falls prevention: cost-effective commissioning 

A return on investment tool from Public Health England to help commissioners and communities provide cost-effective falls prevention activities.

Falls prevention: cost-effective commissioning

Royal College of Nursing

Resources for nursing professionals on the prevention, treatment and management of falls in older people.


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Bladder and bowel problems

In the UK, there are over 14 million people who have urinary incontinence and 6.5 million with bowel incontinence. Incontinence can affect people of all ages but is more common in older people. Stigma around these issues mean people often delay seeking help, and symptoms in older people are often poorly managed.

Useful resources

Health Innovation Network catheter care

Best practice guidance and resources from two-year catheter quality improvement programme across South London.

Catheter care

‘My bladder and bowel own my life’ 

Report from a collaborative workshop involving Age UK, summarising the issues affecting people living with incontinence and the need for more continence research.

Full report

Unplanned Admissions Consensus Committee (UACC) toolkit 

For continence care and infection prevention.


Age UK incontinence information

Information for older people and carers.


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Around 850,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in the UK. Numbers of people with dementia in the UK are forecast to reach over 1 million by 2025 and over 2 million by 2051.

Useful resources

Age UK promising approaches to living well with dementia

A practical resource for individuals and organisations working in the community with people with dementia, offering a new framework to support people to live well with dementia.

Promising approaches to Living well with dementia

Living well with dementia: a national dementia strategy 

Produced by the Department of Health, this provides a good practice compendium to support local delivery of the national dementia strategy and improve outcomes for people with dementia and their carers.

Living well with dementia: a national dementia strategy 


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Delirium is an episode of acute confusion. It can often be misrecognised as dementia, but it is preventable and treatable. Older people are more at risk of developing delirium (particularly those who are living with dementia, cognitive impairment, experience severe illness or hip fracture).

Around 20 to 30% of older people on medical wards in hospital will have delirium, and up to 50% of people with dementia will experience it. Older people with delirium may have longer stays in hospital, be at increased risk of complications such as falls, accidents or pressure ulcers, and be more likely to be admitted into long-term care.

Useful resources

Royal College of Nursing information, guidance and tools 

Help to identify and manage episodes of delirium in older patients.

Information, guidance and tools 

Royal College of Physicians guidelines on prevention, diagnosis, referral and management of delirium in older people


Royal College of Psychiatrists

Information on delirium

Dementia UK

Information leaflet on delirium and dementia.


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Mental health problems

Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are common in later life, affecting around 1 in 4 older people. They can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. Mental health problems in older adults often go undetected and under-treated.

Useful resources

Age UK's Hidden in plain sight 

Evidences the unmet mental health needs of older people, including data around older people’s access to talking therapies.

Hidden in plain sight

Suffering in Silence: age inequality in older people’s mental health care

This resource from the Royal College of Psychiatrists examines the issue of age discrimination in mental health care.

Suffering in Silence

NHS England Mental health in older people: A practice primer 

For primary New Blockcare, especially GPs, to improve the identification of older people’s mental health conditions.

Mental health in older people: A practice primer 

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Supporting people to improve their wellbeing


There are 1.4 million chronically lonely older people in England. Loneliness can have a serious effect on a person’s health and wellbeing, increasing the likelihood of mental health problems and some physical health conditions.

Useful resources

Age UK loneliness research and resources 

Provides evidence on the prevalence of loneliness among older people and risk factors.

Loneliness research and resources 

Age UK Testing promising approaches to reducing loneliness

Provides an overview of results, case studies and learnings from Age UK’s pilot programme to reduce loneliness.

Promising approaches to reducing loneliness

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Physical activity

The benefits of physical activity for older adults is well evidenced, with multiple health benefits including promoting general health, cognitive function, lower risk of falls and reduced likelihood of some long-term conditions and diseases.

Useful resources

Fit as a Fiddle

Information on Age UK’s Fit as a Fiddle programme to promote physical activity in older people, including service evaluations and case studies.

Fit as a Fiddle 

Richmond Group People with long-term conditions and attitudes toward physical activity 

A qualitative research report to understand levels of, attitudes toward and barriers to physical activity for people living with long-term conditions.

People with long-term conditions and attitudes toward physical activity

NHS Physical activity guidelines for older adults


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When someone is struggling to cope

Some older people display signs that may indicate they're unable, or are choosing not, to look after themselves. Age UK carried out research to explore experiences of older people neglecting important aspects of their daily life.

Struggling to cope research

Supporting people at the end of their life

Advanced care planning and end of life

Advanced care planning is key to delivering personalised care at the end of life. People should be encouraged to have proactive discussions about their wishes for care at the end of life as early as possible. Their wishes should also be recorded. These discussions should include advance decisions to refuse treatment (ADRT) and do not attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions.

Advanced care planning and end of life care

Age UK Let’s talk about death and dying 

A booklet and film encourages intergenerational conversations about death and dying.

Let’s talk about death and dying 

Royal College of Nursing

Information and resources on end of life care, including fundamentals of nursing care at the end of life and learning around the delivery of nutrition and hydration at the end of life.

End of life care

Fundamentals of nursing care at the end of life

Nutrition and hydration at the end of life

Royal College of General Practitioners Palliative end end of life care toolkit

Includes the Daffodil Standards – GP core standards for end of life care and advanced serious illness.

Palliative and end of life care toolkit

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Last updated: Jul 21 2020

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