Healthy ageing and caring

Being able to stay healthy in later life is a crucial issue for all of us. We know that older people often do not feel supported to look after their own health, particularly people with multiple long term conditions, including frailty. This has a detrimental impact on their quality of life and health outcomes.

Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing

NHS England, in partnership with Age UK, Public Health England, and the Chief Fire Officer’s Association and Older People themselves, has published a Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing.

The guide helps people to stay physically and mentally well by providing hints and tips on how to keep fit and independent. It recognises, as we all should, that there is always something we can do to improve our health and wellbeing. For older people who may be starting to find things more difficult to do, it is particularly important to take active steps to slow down or reverse some of the health challenges we are all likely to face.

To help people understand their potential risk of living with frailty, the guide includes a simple, walking speed test. Taking more than five seconds to cover a distance of four metres is highly indicative of frailty, with the proviso that there is no obvious alternative reason for walking slowly such as a previous stroke or knee/hip arthritis. This is not meant to be a diagnosis, but it can provide a good indication that someone should consider making changes to their daily lives so that they can better manage their frailty or reduce the chance of it becoming more serious.

Evidence base for the guide

The guide has been developed and tested using focus groups and in depth interviews. Whilst the content aims to be simple and readable, the evidence base for the topics in the guide is based on a systematic review of 78 longitudinal observational studies that collectively identified 11 main risk factors linked with functional decline in older people living at home. By targeting these risk factors, the guide can contribute to supporting people to stay well for longer, particularly over the winter period, and improve the quality of life of people and their carers.

The Guide is an A4 magazine-style publication that members of the public, professionals and organisations such as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s), pharmacists, Fire and Rescue Services and GPs can order free through Prolog, by calling 0300 123 1002, quoting reference HA2, or on-line at www.orderline.dh.gov.uk

The public can download a copy of the guide from NHS Choices website.

Read Katie Walkin’s blog on the coproduction of the healthy ageing guide here.

Healthy Caring Guide

Building on the popularity of the Healthy Ageing Guide, in partnership with Carers UK, Carers Trust Age UK, Public Health England, and older carers themselves, we have published a Practical Guide to Healthy Caring.

The guide aims to support the 5.4 million carers and in particular those 1.2 million aged over 65, who make a critical and often underappreciated contribution not only to loved ones, neighbours and friends but to the very sustainability of the NHS itself.

The Guide provides information and advice to carers about staying healthy whilst caring and identifies the support available to help carers maintain their health and wellbeing.

The Practical Guide to Healthy Caring is a companion guide to A Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing originally published in January 2015 and updated in October 2015.

The guide has been co-produced with experts and partner organisations and tested with carer focus groups and networks. The guide covers a range of topics that provides hints and tips on how carers can look after their own health as well as support the person they care for.

The Guide is an A4 magazine-style publication that members of the public, professionals and organisations such as CCGs, pharmacists, Fire and Rescue Services and GPs can order free through Prolog, by calling 0300 123 1002, quoting reference HC2 or on-line at www.orderline.dh.gov.uk.

You can read the following blogs from carer Richard Cross and Emily Holzhausen Policy and Public Affairs Director for Carers UK for their thoughts on the healthy caring guide.

For more information contact us at england.longtermconditions@nhs.net