Role of Fluids
Drinking the right amount of fluids every day is very important, especially for the elderly. In Guidelines to Effective Hydration in Aged Care Facilities, author Professor Michael Woodward explains that with age, people lose the awareness and sensation of thirst. As a result, elderly people don’t feel as thirsty as younger people, so dehydration is common. Many don’t realise ‘feeling thirsty’ is the point when dehydration has already started. Residents with dementia often forget to drink altogether putting them at higher risk of dehydration.
Staying hydrated is vital to good health. Drinking water and other fluids helps regulate body temperature and many bodily functions, including blood pressure, brain function, the digestive system, kidney function, bladder and bowel. Paying close attention to hydration is important to maintain the health of Aged Care residents. Professor Janet Mentes from UCLA School of Nursing studied 35 Aged Care facility residents over six months and found almost one in three (31%) residents were dehydrated.
Hydration Requirement for Aged Care Residents
To maintain healthy hydration levels, the recommendation is for residents to drink every 1.5 hours, both at main meals and in between, a total of 6 to 8 cups (1600 - 2000 ml) per day.
A cup of tea in the morning and afternoon tea as well as a glass of water or juice with every meal will provide most of the daily recommended fluid intake for residents. Many foods like soup, custard, jelly, yoghurt or fruit also provide much-needed hydration.
Offering a wide variety of drinks and hydrating foods, readily available and accessible throughout the day, will improve hydration and have wonderful health benefits for every resident.