Nutrition and Hydration Week 2021: Thirsty Thursday

Did you know the prevalence of dehydration in older adults in residential care is 20-38% (1)?

Dehydration in the older person is the result of a number of factors including physiological changes due to the ageing process, underlying medical conditions, impaired cognition and frailty. Associated with a number of medical conditions such as stroke, is dysphagia which can have an impact upon a person’s ability to take an adequate of fluid.

How can I reduce the risk of dehydration in older adults?

There are a variety of potential ways to help older people reduce their risk of dehydration. It is important to be able to recognise when an older person is not drinking enough and helping them to drink more. Using fluid charts to keep a record of a persons intake throughout the day can be a useful to help identify whether someone is at risk of dehydration due to an inadequate fluid intake.

It is useful to consider the reasons why someone may have a reduced fluid intake. Common reasons for this in care home residents include:

  • Needing support to drink
  • Requiring thickened fluids
  • Worries about not reaching the toilet in time
  • Loss of thirst sensation

Top Tips for increasing fluid intake

  • Offer a range of different drinks
  • If using a thickener, choose one that has the least effect on the palatability of the drink whilst meeting the IDDSI fluid level recommended by the SLT. For further information, about the different thickeners, read our blog post here
  • Offer drinks on a regular basis throughout the day
  • If your resident is also losing weight, consider offering a homemade nutritional milkshake

References

  1. Kirsty Hart, Rachel Marsden, and Jenny Paxman. Generation of thirst: a critical review of dehydration among older adults living in residential care.Nursing and Residential Care 2020 22:12, 1-12

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