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.
How do you know if someone is not drinking enough?
The warning signs to look for include
dark urine or less urine
Have you noticed any coughing or drooling when drinking?
Could there be a swallowing difficulty that is making it uncomfortable to drink?
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
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.
Consider referral to Speech and Language Therapist if there are concerns about a swallowing difficulty.
Remember to check urine, it's simple and a great indicator for hydration. Use these Pocket Urine Charts as a tool to help you check.
No-one should be on thickened fluids without a specialist assessment.
Fluid balance chart - 24 hours
Self reported daily fluid intake
3 Day fluid chart
Think Kidneys Workbook