Saturday, 12 July 2014

The downward spiral

I went to visit an elderly friend in hospital this week and was aghast to see how several weeks in hospital has rendered her. This once independent, feisty woman is reduced to as shadow of herself - literally and metaphorically. the most noticeable difference is the amount of weight she has lost. Now down to less than 5 stone. The cause of this? she broke her hip 3 months ago in a fall at home. She was admitted to hospital and has had numerous operations to try to mend it but she is now so weak she cannot stand. now hospital is obviously the place to be when you have a broken bone, and particularly when you are 95 and live alone. But I really take issue with the type of care she has received. The nursing staff for the most part are lovely, but the problem seems to be with they system.

This elderly lady has been moved 11 times in her 3 months stay - both to another hospital and to different wards within the same hospital. She has also been given food she cannot eat, over cooked meat ('which all tastes the same') and ends up bringing it all back up again so she has simply stopped eating it. Nutrition is so key with someone like this. The elderly have very weak digestion and need lots of fluid and dilute protein - so vegetable/ meat broths would be ideal. Her friends have noticed and try to bring things in for her. But all she gets is cake which she doesn't want and won't help her body heal.

I know, she's 95, what can you expect. But if only as much attention and money were paid to the diet of the ill and convalescing as is spent on expensive surgery then people might get better a lot quicker and we'd have less of a crisis in our health system.

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