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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Information on hydration and dehydration, including tips to stay hydrated.
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.
Age UK falls prevention guide
Explains the evidence base for falls prevention exercises and outlines the benefits of exercise programmes.
Age UK falls prevention online information
Information for older people and carers
Age UK's Don’t mention the F word
Provides advice to practitioners on communicating falls prevention messages to older people.
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.
Public Health England resources
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.
Royal College of Nursing
Resources for nursing professionals on the prevention, treatment and management of falls in older people.
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.
Health Innovation Network catheter care
Best practice guidance and resources from two-year catheter quality improvement programme across South London.
‘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.
Unplanned Admissions Consensus Committee (UACC) toolkit
For continence care and infection prevention.
Age UK incontinence information
Information for older people and carers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Royal College of Nursing information, guidance and tools
Help to identify and manage episodes of delirium in older patients.
Royal College of Physicians guidelines on prevention, diagnosis, referral and management of delirium in older people
Royal College of Psychiatrists
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Age UK loneliness research and resources
Provides evidence on the prevalence of loneliness among older people and risk factors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.