It is really important not to underestimate the importance of good hydration for those receiving care at home.
How much water should we drink each day?
The amount you should drink each day depends on several factors including climate, physical activity and diet. The UK Food Standards Agency recommends that “in a moderate climate, such as the UK, we need to drink at least 6 -8 cups or glasses of water (or other fluid) to prevent dehydration.”
To maintain good hydration for those receiving care at home, it is important to meet the 6-8 glasses of water per day target.
How can we identify dehydration?
You can monitor hydration levels by observing urine colour. Urine should be clear or pale colour. Observing lighter coloured urine throughout the day is an indicator a person is drinking enough and is well hydrated.
As we age we become more at risk of dehydration
Elderly people can often be physically frail with reduced mobility & activity. This makes it harder not only to get a drink but also to go to the toilet. Some people may decline drinking sufficient volumes of water in order to avoid need to go to the toilet later.
Those with poor memory or other mental issues may needed prompting to drink a sufficient amount.
As we grow older our feelings of thirst reduce. As a result we drink less which can lead to dehydration.
Our kidneys don’t work as well as we grow older. We also may develop any of number of medical problems (or / and take medication) which make it very important to stay well hydrated.
Dehydration is dangerous.
Dehydration causes dizziness which can lead to falls. It can cause tiredness, lethargy, confusion and constipation. The kidneys don’t produce urine so well increasing the risk of urinary tract infections.
How can you promote good hydration for those receiving care at home?
- Encourage those who you provide care for to drink a little more.
- When you visit, offer a drink when you arrive.
- Encourage sips during your visit.
- Leave them a drink for later.
- Find out what the person you are caring for likes to drink.
- Sometimes it can help to be aware of and record how much they are drinking.
- Let those that you care know that by having another glass of water they are helping to keep themselves well.
- Encourage drinking water even when people don’t feel thirsty; by the time you feel thirsty your body has lost between 2 and 5 cups of water.
- Suggest starting the day with a cup of hot water with a good squeeze of fresh lemon.
- Discourage caffeine and alcohol, drink water. Caffeine and alcohol act as diuretics and cause the body to lose water. You could also suggest a glass of water with coffee and tea?
- Throughout the day make water constantly available, keep a bottle of water within reach.
- Perhaps create a daily schedule; drink a glass after breakfast, one before lunch etc.
- Suggest to people to keep a drinks diary which will help to raise awareness about how much they are drinking.
Some great reason to stay well hydrated
- Concentration – When you are dehydrated your attention and concentration can decrease by 13% and short term memory by 7%. Stay well hydrated helps to improve your concentration.
- Are you really hungry? – People often confuse mild feelings of thirst with mild hunger. Drinking water can help manage weight by curbing the appetite and it is calorie free. Also eating more fruit and vegetables can help because they are good for you and are 80-90% water.
- Active today? – Drinking water before, during and after any physical activity will help keep your heart rate and body temperature lower.
- Hot? – In hot temperatures your body loses more water. Drink additional water each day to compensate for this loss.
- Look great! – Dehydrated skin looks older. Drink lots to keep your skin looking younger and vibrant.
Perhaps Gardiner’s can help? A daily visit from our care workers may be all that is need to help encourage your loved want to drink more. Equally the reassurance of knowing that someone is coming to help assist to use the bathroom or change pads can give those with mobility issues the confidence to maintain good levels of fluid intake.
For more information about water, drinks and your health, please visit the NHS choices website