Fluid is essential for the body to function properly. The importance of having enough fluid does not decrease with age and if we do not take enough fluid into the body we call this dehydration.

As the body ages we can experience a reduced sensation of thirst, and this may be more pronounced if we have dementia, have suffered a stroke or take certain medications. It is important to remember this as thirst in older people may not be relied on as an indicator of dehydration.

Poorly hydrated individuals are more likely to develop pressure sores, skin conditions, bladder infections, constipation and confusion.

Warning signs

How do you know if someone is not drinking enough?

The warning signs to look for include

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Thirst

  • dark urine or less urine

  • headaches

  • dry mouth/nose

  • dry skin

  • cramp

Have you noticed any coughing or drooling when drinking?

 Could there be a swallowing difficulty that is making it uncomfortable to drink?

How much

How much should someone drink through the day?

6-8 glasses per day using a 250ml mug or glass

Remember that foods high in water, like fresh fruits, vegetables and some dairy products can be an important part of a person’s fluid intake

What can you do

Small sips and often

Water, Milk or Juice at every meal.  Use a teaspoon to offer a little sip.

Think about using different cups e.g. nosey beakers or ones which encourage independence

Make sure that person is in an upright, supported position for drinking.

Help the person to avoid tipping their head back to drink, instead encouraging them to keep their chin down to make swallowing as safe as possible.