Watch out for elderly in Lincolnshire

THE NHS in Lincolnshire is asking the public to look out for elderly relatives and neighbours during the winter months to ensure they are not at risk of dehydration, kidney injury or having a fall.

The call comes during Self-care week which runs from November 14.

When elderly people fall ill they may take to their beds and not eat and drink enough if they have no-one to look after them. If they are ill with an infection the likelihood of them having a fall increases so members of the public are asked to call in to make sure elderly people they know are safe and well.

Consultant at Grantham and District Hospital, Shirine Boardman says; “The elderly are particularly vulnerable to being at risk of dehydration as they may not have anyone to take care of them at home if they fall ill with an infection.

“Sometimes, fluids are wrongly avoided because of fear of needing to go to the toilet, especially when they feel too poorly or have a urinary infection. If they are taking medication and become dehydrated, their kidneys are at risk of injury which means they cannot remove toxins from the body, and may end up requiring treatment in hospital.”

The Department of Health reports that the NHS spent £1.64billon on treating kidney problems in 2009-10, which was 23% higher than the previous year. Experts say a major cause was a rapid growth in acute kidney injury in the ageing population caused by dehydration and infection.

Dr Boardman said: “Acute kidney injury can be prevented by making sure patients stay hydrated. This can start as self-care in the community so we would like members of the public to ensure any elderly people they know continue to drink fluids if they fall ill, even if they don’t feel like it. Ageing kidneys are more vulnerable to injury, especially when infection strikes and this can be made worse by not drinking any water.”

She continued: “Simple tasks such as making sure they can reach a glass of water if they are in bed or popping in to make them a cup of tea can really help.”

Self-care week is part of a national campaign to encourage all of us to learn how to take control and be actively involved in improving our own health and well-being, especially those with a long term condition and important reminder of what services are available to help people take care of themselves.

A well-stocked medicine cupboard will treat most coughs and colds. Pharmacies can offer treatment, advice and information. If symptoms persist or get worse over two weeks, make an appointment with your GP. When it’s not a 999 emergency, but you need medical help fast, call 111 24 hours a day, seven days a week.