Healthy Ageing Guide

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.

While it is aimed at people of any age, it is particularly relevant for people aged around 70 years or older who are beginning to find that everyday tasks now take them longer to do and may be suffering from mild frailty.

Second edition of the guide

A Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing was originally published in January 2015. This updated version published on 1 October 2015 has been refined and improved through focus groups and additional sections added with the support of experts and partnership organisations. Refinements include overall improvements, in particular to the make your home safe and look after your mental health sections and has seen the addition of two new sections aimed at a looking after your brain and looking after your oral health

Frailty and supported self-management

Frailty shares two key features of a long term condition:

  • it cannot be cured but aspects can be controlled through appropriate treatments;
  • it is a progressive disorder with increasing risk of the onset of the clinical frailty syndromes and adverse outcomes

People with frailty tend to present late and in crisis, and there is often an over-reliance on secondary care responses. For example, there are over 650,000 fall presentations for people over 65 years at A&E departments each year.

The Practical Guide to Health Ageing includes a simple, evidenced-based walking speed test. Taking more than five seconds to cover a distance four 4 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.

Supported self-management is an evidence-based, effective intervention for long-term conditions and can be applied to people living with frailty. It works by helping individuals and their carers to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to care for themselves effectively.

Evidence base for the Guide

This 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 principal risk factors associated with functional decline in older people living at home. The contents cover:

  • Looking after your feet
  • Preventing falls
  • Looking after your eyes
  • Vaccinations
  • Making your home safe
  • Keeping warm
  • Keeping active
  • Getting ready for winter
  • Medicines review
  • Bladder and bowel problems
  • Hearing tests
  • Eating and drinking well
  • Caring and looking after yourself
  • Looking after your mental health
  • Looking after your mouth (additional section added October 2015)
  • Looking after your brain (additional section added October 2015)

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 CCGs, pharmacists, Fire and Rescue Services and GPs can order free through Prolog, by calling 0300 123 1002, quoting reference HA2, or on-line at

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