A specialist nurse in infection is appealing to families to make sure older people have at least eight drinks a day to reduce their risk of hospital admissions.
Drinking at least 1.5 litres of fluid or around eight cups a day prevents infections such as Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), which are particularly common in older people.
People over 65 are also at greater risk of dehydration, which can in turn increase the risk of developing an infection.
Greta Johnson, lead infection prevention and control nurse at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said families planning to celebrate New Year with their older loved ones can play a part in keeping them well and out of hospital.
She said: “Drinking eight cups a day can reduce the risk of any of us developing certain infections and that’s particularly vital when it comes to more vulnerable members of our community.
“We can help older members of our family to stay well by making sure they drink enough each day. While drinking plenty of water might be something we’re more inclined to do when the weather’s hot, it’s just as important that we drink plenty during the winter too.
“While drinking water might not be appealing on colder days, taking hot drinks such as hot water with lemon or using hot water to dilute sugar-free juice can make all the difference and help stop an older person having to come into hospital if they catch an infection.”
Hospital stays can start older people on a downward spiral of ill health.
It is widely believed that every 10 days of hospital bed rest causes 10 years of muscle ageing in a person over 80. They then return home weaker, more prone to developing further illnesses and more prone to falling, both causing further hospital admissions.
Once an older person contracts an infection, they may require antibiotics which can then lead to them developing a more serious or even life-threatening infection which is resistant to antibiotics.
Keeping hydrated as well as warm and active are all practical steps which can be taken to keep an older person well and reduce the risk of hospital admissions.
Greta Johnson said: “While we will always do our best to care for all patients admitted to hospital, it makes sense to do all we can to prevent them coming into hospital in the first place, particularly for older people.
“People are visiting older relatives at this time of year and we’re hoping they will take this opportunity to ensure they are drinking enough, are warm enough and are mobile to remain in good health.”