Dehydration is an age old problem. Throughout our life, our sense of thirst prompts us to drink more fluids in order to stay hydrated. Recently, research evidence has found that as we get older our sense of thirst reduces. Therefore, the risk to the elderly of dehydration instantly increase. Dehydration is a frequent cause of hospitalisation of older adults and one of the ten most frequent diagnoses responsible for hospitalisation in the United-States.
The reduction in a person sensation to want to consume fluids is just one of the factors that can lead to dehydration. There could also be reduced swallowing capacity, decreased mobility or comprehension and communication disorders.
There is overwhelming agreement that the most appropriate and cost effective way of reducing the risk of dehydration , is quite simply to ensure a person always receives the correct level of support to drink and eat from a carer.
For families who are restricted by the amount of care they receive or even the carers providing the support, a simple strategy to encourage fluid consumption could be any of the following:-
- Offering fluids regularly throughout the day
- Making fluids readily available by placing containers such as small bottles or cups close by.
- Providing preferred drinks to keep interest up.
The old saying goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you cant make it drink”, this is true not just for horses but for humans too. You can not make someone drink but the slightest of hints and appropriate care can reduce the risk of dehydration and the associated problems that come with it.