The weather is getting hotter and hotter out there and we are noticing an increasing number of older people admitted to hospital with symptoms of dehydration. We want to do all we can to keep the people we care for as healthy as possible and have signposted some sources below that may be useful.
There are no recommended guidelines for water intake, but the general rule is around 6-8 glasses (1.5 – 2 litres) per day, on top of what comes from food naturally. However, as you will be aware, it is a challenge to achieve this among older people, especially if they are frail. If you are looking after this group of people, aim for optimal hydration; this means achieving the best oral fluid intake possible under the present circumstances, even though that may not be 6-8 glasses/day. All fluid except alcohol counts, including water, tea, coffee, milk and fruit juice. The links below contain lots of guidance and Public Health England have produced the poster attached with useful guidance for home care and care home colleagues.
It is also important to recognise that Care Quality Commission Standards apply to hydration as well as nutrition and focus on identification and assessment, monitoring fluid intake and care. These include:-
Additional sources of information:
Age UK: Staying cool in a heatwave – Age UK outline how to stay cool in a heatwave, including skin protection, avoiding dehydration and heat stroke
Food Fact Sheet: Fluid – The British Dietetic Association (BDA) outlines how much fluid to drink, what kind of fluids and how to tell when it isn’t enough.
Hydration Tips for Seniors, Jennifer Leeflang, Partners in Care – The Ageing Care newsletter outlines why seniors are at risk and includes useful information about food with high water content.
The Hydrate Toolkit: Improving hydration among older people in care homes and the community, Academic Health Science Network – The ASHN packs have great lists of symptoms of dehydration to watch for and goes on to advise how to include in to daily routines.
Heatwave plan for England: Supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave – advice for care home managers and staff – This factsheet uses the information detailed within the Heatwave plan. It builds on expert advice from the WHO and the EuroHEAT project in developing other national heatwave plans. It is part of a national programme to reduce the health risks by advising people what to do in the event of a heatwave, before it happens.
Heatwave plan for England: Supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave – advice for health and social care professionals. This factsheet is part of a national programme to reduce the health risks by alerting people to the dangers and encouraging them to plan in advance what to do in the event of a heatwave.