Local care company Home Instead Senior Care who support older people living at home in and around the North Yorkshire towns of Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk have advice for those with elderly relatives on how to avoid hospitalisation unless absolutely necessary.
Remaining happy and healthy at home during old age can sometimes feel like a challenge without the correct support and care, but it's important where possible to avoid stints in hospital which can cause long term setbacks.
NHS in Crisis
The population in England was 47 million in 1987 with the number of hospital beds at 300,000. But despite the population rising to 55 million people, 20 years later by 2017, the number of hospital beds had dropped to 142,000. [According to Kings Fund]
Now it could be argued that healthcare has got better, people are living longer and therefore less treatment is needed, but there's no doubt that talk of an 'NHS in crisis' has made headlines with stories of beds on corridors, long waiting times, and short-staffed hospital wards.
Despite local services coping well, it's important that residents from the North Yorkshire area understand the importance of staying fit and well.
How to avoid hospitalisation for the elderly
Unless people are actually unwell and in need of treatment, care providers Home Instead Senior Care in Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk want to help local residents to stay out of hospital.
Unnecessary stints in hospital can often result in negative consequences such as muscle wastage, lack of familiar companionship and depression.
The following five areas can help minimise the chances of being hospitalized at any age, but especially in older age:
- Follow Doctors Orders
Having an excellent GP is essential but equally important is making sure that older people follow their GP’s direction. Caregivers are trained to spot ‘red flag’ changes in health such as worsening chronic conditions or unused medication and can act to remedy this. They can also assist with transportation to appointments and help with medication management.
- Keep Physically and Mentally Active
Encourage your relative to keep active where possible. Walking for just five or 10 minutes at a time several days each week is a great way to begin. Keeping the brain active through activities such as drawing, doing a puzzle or learning something new are great ways to stimulate the connections between nerve cells.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet
Often our appetite diminishes as we age but maintaining a balanced diet is essential. Encourage your loved ones to eat a diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, oily fish and starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta and rice. Extra vitamin D and calcium should be on the menu to combat osteoporosis
- Keep Hydrated
It is important that your family member stays hydrated, even if they say they’re not thirsty. It is advisable to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health so it’s important to encourage social activities such as attending a lunch club or memory café or joining a social club. Care at home such as Home Instead can help you with all of the above – from companionship visits to preparing healthy meals – so that your family member can live life well and reduce the risk of going into hospital.
These five simple tips can be made much easier to maintain with support from a caregiver.
From complex needs to a simple weekly visit or anything in between, Home Instead in Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk offer a range of care services and would be happy to talk to you or a loved one about how they could help.
Beth Parsons from local radio Stray FM's Health and Wellbeing Show has been talking to Home Instead Director Sheena Van Parys and Registered Care Manger Carol Bray, with a little help from caregiver Louisa and client Lillian, on how to avoid unnecessary hospitalisation as we get older. Listen again by clicking on the link below.