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Nutrition and Hydration Week; a Founder's blog.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Contents

It is the mission of National Nutrition and Hydration Week to create a global movement that will reinforce and focus, energy, activity and engagement on nutrition and hydration as a fundamental element of maintaining the health and well-being for our global community.This week many people all over the country are celebrating the improvements that have been made in the provision of nutrition and hydration on both a local and global scale, and working to raise awareness of the importance that these factors have for maintaining health and well-being. This topic is one that is quite personal to me, and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my experience of how these factors have affected the health of a close member of my family; my godfather, Bernard.For several years now both my husband Ron and I have cared for Bernard who is 94, initially just dropping by to make sure he was ok at home and if he needed any assistance with anything. Over time however, Bernard’s mobility began to decline and the level of physical assistance he required increased. Generally Bernard was happy though, and maintained a positive outlook on his life. One of his main highlights was definitely food- he had always been a healthy eater, and he enjoyed a hearty three meals a day, plus cake and coffees with gusto!In December 2016 however, we began to notice a huge change to Bernard’s character; he became withdrawn, disinterested in the TV and slept much more that before.His hearty appetite was steadily declining and he began to lose weight. Furthermore, my godfather became much less lucid and uncommunicative. As I’m sure you can imagine, It was a really worrying time for us all.As the weeks passed it became evident that Bernard was really struggling to even drink a glass of water. We tried to encourage him to stay on top of his hydration however it was obvious something was wrong. The weight was still dropping off him and his coherence began to become severely affected too. We were so concerned about this dramatic change in Bernard that we decided to seek medical help and called for an ambulance. Bernard was admitted to hospital and immediately put on a drip for dehydration. The fluids perked him up, and to our relief he began to make small improvements.During his stay in hospital, we did all we could to visit frequently and encourage him to stay on top of his drinking and eating habits, however of course we couldn't be there at all times. We would call the hospital regularly to check how he was and to enquire about his food and drink intake. With so many changes in staff and such a busy environment however, the information we were receiving was inconsistent and sometimes wrong- no one was really able to tell us what he was eating each day, or how much he was drinking.On one particular occasion we were told that Bernard had just drank a cup of tea, which was absurd for us to hear as we knew that Bernard hated tea and hadn’t drank it for years! Without that constant support and communication there, it had just been assumed that Bernard would like tea, which of course he didn’t.Tests were taken and it came back that Bernard had a severe kidney infection and that in fact his bladder was, for use of a better word, exhausted. It was because of this condition that Bernard was struggling to drink as he was unable to pass water comfortably. Following this diagnosis it was decided that Bernard should be moved to a care home to support his needs, and we found a lovely place that we all felt happy with.Following this move however, it came as a shock to us when the care home advised that for all new admissions they would liaise with the hospital a resident came from in order to get an ‘overview’ of their character, including what they liked to eat or drink. We found this news incredible- how could a busy place like a hospital be able to deliver this overview that would essentially go into their care plan? Anyway, we managed to update this information ourselves to ensure Bernard received the best care, which he does.I guess the moral of the story, or at least what I have personally learnt from this experience, is just how important keeping track of nutrition and hydration is, particularly in the case of elderly or vulnerable people. I know that If it wasn’t for the research and scoping I had previously done for Kafoodle Kare, then I wouldn't have known just how important eating and drinking are for the maintenance of well being, and how a decline or change in these habits can really signify that their are problems. In essence, I wouldn’t have know that Bernard’s change in diet and hydration levels were quite so serious, and I think it is so important that we raise an awareness of this issue as far and as wide as we can.So, during this week I cannot stress how vital it is to consider these factors and how they can be improved, particularly in domiciliary care settings. I am really happy to say that Bernard is making a great recovering from this experience and has settled in well in his care home.Wishing you all a very happy and healthy weekend.KimIf you would like anymore information about the importance of hydration, then this is a great article to read:https://www.healthambition.com/how-much-water-do-you-need-daily/

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