This time last year we received a call from one of the hospitals asking had we a short-term bed available for a man recovering after a fall. As it happened we did and the man was admitted to us, having spent months in hospital recovering from breaking his hip. It was unusual to have spent that long in hospital after breaking a hip, so we were curious as to what had happened.
As we got to know him and heard his story we were shocked. He had had a fall at home while in the bathroom. He had fractured his hip and couldn’t move and he had spent 5 days on the floor there. He was close to death when he was found by the postman who realised he hadn’t seen him for a few days and decided to take the chance to get in to the house and see was everything all right. That poor man spent days between consciousness and unconsciousness, in agony on a cold tiled floor. It took two months in hospital to bring this man back to a stage where he could be discharged to us. When he was admitted we were expecting him to stay up to a month, maybe 6 weeks. However, as the time went on we could tell that he was inventing illnesses to make his stay longer. We knew straightaway that he was nervous to go home. Nervous to go back to living on his own with the threat that the same thing might happen to him again.
Our resident eventually went home just before Christmas and we have stayed in contact with him and he with us. Even though he is discharged we would like him to feel that he still has a link outside of the house. Someone who is looking after him. He comes up every now and then to meet with the nurses if there is anything he wants checking. We do take our part to play within the community seriously here at Beech Lodge.
So what can you do over the winter to help elderly neighbours and friends? Here are a few suggestions.
- Include an elderly neighbour in your weekly shopping plans, either bringing them with you, or getting a few bits for them, allowing you to call in to them once a week.
- Check they have sufficient heating fuel during very cold weather, and if not help them arrange to get some.
- Check they have all their medication and whether they need to get to the pharmacy for more which can be difficult for elderly people in icy or wet conditions. They may no longer feel comfortable to drive and walking on icy footpaths may be hazardous.
- If you are handy at DIY maybe they would appreciate a bit of help, some handrails put in around the house, or some furniture being moved around to make their house safer to get around in.
- Maybe in the case of someone who is independent but you are worried about, they might be convinced to wear a personal alarm – just in case anything happened.
- Most important of all is to just check in with elderly family, friends or neighbours.