“With some forward thinking, many of the challenges that frailty brings can be managed, or even avoided”.
You can help to keep your health, mind and social life in order by taking just a few simple actions.
If you are thinking about the future, or feel that a family member or friend needs to start doing so, use our top tips below.
When you ask yourself this question there may be a few things that you immediately think of. These could include:
When you have had a think about all of the things that are important to you speak to those important people in your life, whether this be your partner, your family, your friends or a carer.
By telling them about your concerns or queries you can think forward together, plan ahead and avoid situations where people have to make a difficult decision for you, if you are unable to.
If you help to care for your Mum, Dad, grandparent, friend or neighbour visit the Carers and Volunteers section of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers website to find out about the support available to you, including carers groups and emergency planning advice.
Making sure your home is safe and meets any physical requirements you need is very important. A safe, secure home can help you to stay independent for as long as possible.
Help and advice can often be found on your local council website.
Hampshire County Council’s Connect to Support website offers advice about staying independent in your home. This includes advice on equipment that may help you, how to prevent falls, and how to stay safe and secure.
Despite being an emotionally difficult process, a large weight can be lifted by having the following put in place:
The Dying Matters website is home to a huge range of support and advice that can help us all talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life.
Many of us are living with long term health conditions, such as diabetes, anxiety, arthritis and frailty. Talking openly about your health concerns with your family and friends can identify when having a care plan in place would be useful.
A care plan is a document where you express your wishes for your future care and support, and it will be individual to you. You will have as much involvement in the development of your plan as you wish.
By putting a care plan in place, you will be able to:
Once you have had the conversation with those most important to you, or someone on your behalf, should contact your GP practice and ask how to put one in place.
General practices are identifying people who may be living with frailty. A GP, nurse or other healthcare professionals from your doctors surgery could ask to talk with you about the choices available to you and to give advice. This could include:
The conversations that you may have about staying independent will help you, and health and care professionals that support you, to make care plans that are personalised to suit your needs.
Another type of care plan, being rolled out in various parts of the UK, is called ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment). The ReSPECT process allows you to create a personalized plan for your clinical care in emergency situations where you may not be able to make decisions or communicate your wishes. Therefore in the instance of an emergency you will be able to receive the care you would like, and need, as quickly as possible.
“With the right support, you can be more resilient to the changes that later life can bring”.
Resilience – both physical and mental is very important. It can be applied to many aspects of life. It can help your body defend itself from illness and infection, but can also allow you to adapt to the changes that occur during ageing. A resilient mind helps us through the challenges that life can bring.
See our tips below on how you can be more resilient, or the things to think about if you are looking out for a family member or friend.
It is important to attend health checks and vaccinations when invited by your GP practice.
If you are 40-75 years old you will be invited to free NHS health checks. During these checks a healthcare professional will monitor the following:
It's designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
Another way to stay resilient is to keep up-to-date with vaccinations. These help your body fight off many illnesses and diseases. If you are over 65 years old there are a variety of vaccinations that you will be invited to have by your GP. It is important to consider these invitations as they can really help you stay well.
A free flu jab, once a year, is offered to over 65s. It is also offered to groups of people, who if they caught the flu, could become seriously unwell, such as those with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease and for people who are immunosuppressed (you may be ‘immunosuppressed’ if you are receiving chemotherapy and other drugs designed to suppress your immune system).
Speak to your GP or local pharmacist about getting the flu jab.
A free, one-off, pneumonia vaccine is offered to those over 65. Pneumonia is a swelling (inflammation) of the tissue in one or both lungs. It's usually caused by a bacterial infection. This single vaccine can help to protect you for the rest of your life.
If you are over the age of 70 you will be invited by your GP for a free shingles vaccine. Shingles is a common and painful skin disease.
This is especially important if you take several different medications. Your GP or local pharmacist can help you with this. Over time, taking a combination of different medicines, can lead to them not working well together. By reviewing these, you can take more control of managing your health.
Take a look at the video below to find out how to take charge of your medications.
As well as attending health checks and vaccinations when invited, and having your medicines reviewed, you can also continue to monitor your own health by taking the How Are You quiz.
You may have more spare time now than you used to. Therefore keeping your mind busy and active is important. Doing so can help to maintain your concentration, attention, memory and communication skills long into the future.
Our advice is be creative – use your spare time to pursue that interest…or learn something completely new!
Your local council website and local community centres are often a great way to find out about activities in your area.
It is also important to keep stress in check. Support can come from many places including family, friends and the community. Support groups also exist to help deal with the stresses of life; including groups for carers or support groups for people suffering with certain illnesses.
Use the links below to find out more about what support is available in Hampshire:
There are many ways to help keep you fit and healthy including eating a balanced diet and keeping active.
There are many tools available. Click here to find out about the support you can get to make these changes.
Eating a balanced diet and drinking well can make all this difference to keeping you healthy. It can also help reduce the risk of falls and illness.
Malnutrition (when a person's diet doesn't contain the right amount of nutrients) affects health in many different ways. If you are malnourished, you are more likely to feel tired, low in mood, and become ill.
Malnutrition decreases your ability to fight off infections, delays your recovery or healing.
Malnutrition can also weaken your muscles which can lead to falls.
If you are underweight and/or losing weight without meaning to, then you may be at risk of malnutrition. Click here to find out your Body Mass Index.
We have a range of leaflets that you may find useful to gain weight or stop losing weight:
If you are not underweight but losing weight without trying to, you may also become malnourished. Speak to your Practice Nurse or GP to discuss this if you are worried.
The Change 4 Life website also has lots of healthy meal ideas. Find out more here.
Getting regular exercise is great for boosting your mood and reducing stress. As well as this it increases bone strength and prevents muscle weakness. This in turn can help to prevent falls and maintain your independence as long as possible.
Your local council website can often be a great place to find out about exercise and activity classes. You can also enquire at local sports centres and gyms. These often run activities for individuals over 55.
If you live in Hampshire there are lots of activities taking place to choose from:
“Remaining active and engaged with life is key”
Activity can come in many forms; going out for dinner with friends, going to a games night, doing some sport, or even doing some house-work. It is good to plan things to look forward to and try to do something every day.
All of these things will help to keep your body and mind strong and resilient and reduce the risk of having a fall.
Even if you can’t move around much it’s still important to keep moving! You could join an exercise class that is suitable for your ability; a walking group or there are simple exercises you can do at home.
Here are just a few ideas on ways to stay active:
Driving can give you the freedom to take part in many of the activities mentioned above as well as keeping in touch with family and friends. Staying out on the roads should be based on your ability to stay safe, not on your age. The ‘Behind the Wheel’ guide from Independent Age has some great advice that can help you to feel confident and safe when you are driving. It also covers what the alternatives could be if you make the decision to stop driving in the future.
“If you take action now, and arm yourself with the information you need, there’s no need to worry about the future.”
The first signs of frailty include:
By noticing these changes you can begin to take action and seek advice from your GP and other healthcare professionals.
By identifying that you or a loved one may have frailty, it means that something can be done to avoid it from worsening.
Even if you are not currently considered to be frail, it is good to accept that it can happen to anyone and that we can all take measures to prevent it.
Ignoring frailty can lead to a higher risk of unexpected or dramatic changes in your physical and mental wellbeing after an apparently minor event. These include common illnesses, infection or taking a new medication. This may lead to increased bed rest or even a hospital admission. Staying in hospital can have a have big impact on your physical health.
These may seem like scary statistics but there is so much that you, your family, friends and community can do to help avoid them happening.
There is lots of information and advice out there that will help you and your family tackle the challenges that frailty brings by being forward thinking, resilient and active; it is just knowing where to look!
Remember, frailty can be made better or worse, it is not an inevitable part of ageing.
For general information as well as support and advice on ageing, frailty and healthy living visit:
There are many sources of information covering the support, groups and clubs available across Hampshire: