Population ageing is affecting all Western countries. In order to cope with this challenge, governments focus mainly on ageing in place. Detection of frail or vulnerable older people becomes essential in order to provide appropriate support and prevent adverse outcomes. In this article we review the main paradigms on detecting frail or vulnerable older people living in the community, examine the theoretical gaps and develop new research possibilities. While there is increasing literature on frailty and vulnerability in later life, both concepts are still developing. The key question is: to what extent the actual concepts of frailty or vulnerability are appropriate to detect frail/vulnerable community dwelling older persons? The different concepts trying to capture frailty and vulnerability are criticized. Conclusively, the article highlights the need for a new integrated conceptual model for detecting community dwelling frail or vulnerable older persons including physical, psychological, social and environmental variables.