At The Royal Star & Garter Homes we are so pleased to see that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was well enough to return home for his 91st birthday following 5 days in hospital and is well on the road to recovery. Doctors have blamed the 4 hours of standing on the Royal Barge in damp and cold conditions for exacerbating a bladder infection. I know many people who were surprised yet delighted that both The Duke and HM The Queen remained so visible and stoic despite the weather conditions as they travelled along the Thames. The royal couple were not seen to drink anything and it is most likely that The Duke became dehydrated which put him at increased risk of developing a bladder infection.
Older people are at greater risk of developing dehydration as they tend to drink less, feel less thirsty and feel the effects of hot weather more so than younger people. From time to time residents who live in our homes develop what are known as Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), particularly in men who have enlarged prostate problems which means they are unable to completely empty their bladder, leading to infection. This can be uncomfortable but also lead to acute onset of confusion which requires additional monitoring and support from staff. Treatment is either provided in the home whenever possible, but in more severe cases, residents may be required to spend a few days in hospital for intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
Our staff are trained to monitor and assess for signs and symptoms of dehydration, and UTIs and understand the need to encourage people to drink around 2 litres of fluid a day, which is a tall order for the majority of older people to consume. This is compounded if the person has any difficulties with swallowing as a result of a Cerebral Vascular Accident (stroke) and if they have problems with manual dexterity due to arthritis for example which may affect their ability to hold a cup or glass. People who are living with dementia require a lot of supportive prompting and assistance to drink sufficient fluids and staff in the Roundel Wing at the Royal Star & Garter’s Solihull Home are particularly alert to the early signs of dehydration. If the person experiences a sudden episode of confusion, they may not be able to communicate how they are feeling because of their dementia so it is especially important that our staff are continuously monitoring and doing all they can to avoid this from occurring.
Pauline Shaw, Director of Care & Service Development