Guest blog: A practical guide to healthy ageing

 

Healthy ageing guide
The latest edition of a ‘Practical guide to healthy ageing’

Katie Walkin is a Business Manager in the long-term conditions team at NHS England. Katie recently joined Age UK on a short-term secondment, bringing her experience and insights from working with the NHS to Age UK’s health policy programme. In this blog, Katie writes about her experiences in producing two editions of a ‘Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing’.

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.

NHS England recognised there were lots of very good detailed individual guides to support older people look after their health, but there wasn’t always a single place for people to go.  Improving older people’s care is increasingly a priority for the NHS, so my team set out to produce such a guide, working with the National Clinical Director for Frailty and Age UK.

We set out to produce a readable and practical guide that helped people to stay physically and mentally well by providing hints and tips on how to keep fit and independent. It recognised, 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. Continue reading “Guest blog: A practical guide to healthy ageing”

How should we talk about ‘frailty’?

Scene from a care home

In health care, the word ‘frailty’ carries a lot of baggage. In its most positive sense, it is a phrase used by older people’s specialists to describe a particular state of health, usually characterised by multiple or complex physical and mental health and social needs.

This can then be a gateway to proactive care and support joined-up around the individual.

At the less positive end, it is a shorthand for older people in later old age, with multiple long-term conditions that are almost too difficult to manage. In this case the so-called ‘frail elderly’ may be recognised for having high needs but thought of as almost beyond help and given little support.

It is well known that older people do not identify with the word ‘frailty’. This was a strong finding from research we carried out in 2013.

However, we wanted to understand in more detail how older people felt about being referred to as “frail” and whether or not this could impact on their engagement with services. Continue reading “How should we talk about ‘frailty’?”

Understanding frailty

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This week we have a guest blog from Gill Turner is Vice-President (Clinical Quality) of the British Geriatrics Society and project lead on the Fit for Frailty campaign 

It is hard to open a book, newspaper or listen to the news currently without hearing words like ‘the elderly’ , ‘dementia’ and ‘frail’. But what is meant by these words?

Frailty, for example. Many journalists use ‘frail’ to depict older people as victims of a failing NHS and underfunded social services. Doctors, nurses and relatives sometimes use ‘frail’ to describe people at the very end of their life, reinforcing its negative connotations.

And yet, work done by Age UK shows that older people see being ‘frail’ as akin to being weak, dependent and hopeless: they reject the idea of using it.

So, what if the word ‘frailty’ actually denoted a health condition which could be recognised, managed and even improved? What if the recognition of frailty opened the door to a range of health and social care services organised to address an older person’s wellbeing, independence and control over their own life?  Continue reading “Understanding frailty”

Health and care: What matters most to older people?

Older people chattingThis week, we have a guest blog from Laura Stuart, Frailty Programme Manager at UCLPartners, a world-leading centre for research, healthcare and education.

Continue reading “Health and care: What matters most to older people?”

Living with frailty – Support and assets

In the fourth in a series of blog posts on the experience of living with frailty, we discuss research findings on how people are supported to maintain independence and where at times this support is lacking.

Continue reading “Living with frailty – Support and assets”

Living with frailty – Independence and control

In the third in a series of blogs on the experience of living with frailty, we discuss research findings on how people manage everyday tasks and their desire to retain independence and control.

Continue reading “Living with frailty – Independence and control”