Hydration – having enough fluids
Water is a basic nutrient of the human body and is critical to human life. (WHO).
Although essential to health, along with other nutrient like carbohydrates, fats,
vitamins, proteins and minerals, water is often overlooked.
Good hydration can assist in preventing or treating ailments such as:
- cognitive impairment
- diabetes (management of)
- dizziness and confusion leading to falls
- heart disease
- kidney stones
- low blood pressure
- poor oral health
- pressure ulcers
- skin conditions
- urinary infections and incontinence.
Age and poor hydration
Many older people do not drink adequate amounts of water. About 80% cent of our water comes from drinks and 20% is contained in our food. A reduced appetite or poor nutrition can mean that many older people may miss out on vital fluids.
Our kidneys play a vital role in regulating the amount of fluid in the body, but as we get older their function deteriorates. Changes in hormone levels can also mean that water balance takes longer to be restored even after a drink has been consumed.
Dehydration can occur as a result of:
- cognitive impairment
- changes in functional ability
- excessive exposure to heat or exertion
- taking medication such as laxatives, diuretics or hypnotics
- illness, or
- stress arising from other factors.
Thirst, the body’s natural response to dehydration, has been shown to be less effective in older people. Patients who have had a stroke or who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can be particularly insensitive to thirst.
The ‘Hydration Glass’ below provides (produced by the Natural Hydration Council and the British Nutrition Foundation) is a handy guide to the different types of drinks that can help to hydrate you CLICK HERE
Ten tips for drinking more water
1. On a sedentary day, try to drink around two litres of water.
2. Start by drinking a glass of fresh water when you get up in the morning.
3. If you are not used to drinking water regularly, try initially replacing just one of your other drinks a day with fresh water, increasing your consumption as the weeks go by.
4. Ask for a glass of tap water to go with your coffee and tea in cafés.
5. Drink a glass of water before and during each meal.
6. Hot water with fresh mint, lemon balm or a piece of fruit in – like lime, lemon, orange etc – often helps those who want a hot drink.
7. Carry a bottle filled with chilled tap water with you whenever you leave the house.
8. During exercise, drink at 10 to 15 minute intervals or think of it as a full glass every 30 minutes – drink slowly and drink early, it’s physically easier to do this when you are still feeling fresh.
9. Keep a check on your urine. As a general guide to hydration, it should be plentiful, pale in colour and odourless.
10. Ask for a jug of iced tap water with your meal when in restaurants and with your alcohol when in bars – good establishments will be happy to provide this.
All relevant medical practice and care guidance must be observed before considering these suggestions.
Taken from: Water for Health, Hydration Best Practice Toolkit for Hospitals and Healthcare.
For advice on ‘Looking After Yourself and Others’ as a result of the prolonged hot weather CLICK HERE. Danger symptoms to watch out for in hot weather include: feeling faint and dizzy, short of breath, vomiting or increasing confusion, some of which could lead to a fall.
The same website also has a number of FACTSHEETS on this topic including one about Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
Now read about LIFESTYLE FACTORS AND FALLS.