The NHS Confederation has urged local government and the health service to collaborate over social care in the event of cutbacks.
In a bid to get "the maximum bang for every buck" deputy director of policy Jo Webber said that local government and NHS must work together.
But concerns have been expressed by experts that older people may seek help from the NHS following cuts to social care services.
Spending on health services is set to rise to £114bn by the end of the next four years from £104bn this year.
Social care will receive an extra £1bn a year taken from NHS funds as part of an overall £2bn of extra funding every year by 2014/15.
But this is set against a backdrop of 26% cuts in central government funding to local councils over the next four years.
And, while health spending will be protected in the immediate future, the NHS is still expected to find "efficiency savings" of £15bn to £20bn.
Speaking in Manchester at the National Children and Adult Services Conference, Ms Webber said: "This winter is likely to bring the first real test of the impact this spending squeeze is going to have on the vulnerable and elderly, and the services they rely on.
"Simply shunting costs from one part of the system will prove to be a totally inadequate response to the challenge of caring for elderly people."