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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The importance of maintaining good hydration in older people

Knowing the importance of maintaining good hydration in older people
Being well-nourished and well-hydrated is a core component of maintaining good health. But while there is a growing emphasis on tackling malnutrition and improving nutritional care, there is a danger that hydration is being overlooked.

Good hydration enhances feelings of wellbeing, reduces the use of medication and helps prevent illness. For most adults, dehydration is a problem with a quick fix. However for older adults, dehydration is the most common cause of fluid and electrolyte imbalance and one that can have devastating long-term effects

Therefore ensuring good practice in hydration care is key to improving quality of life and maintaining older people’s health. It is well documented that many older people continue to suffer from preventable dehydration, even though it can be easily avoided by ensuring individuals have enough to drink. Despite this apparently simple and cost-effective preventative measure, dehydration is still a major problem for older people in care homes, hospitals and in their own homes within the community.

Risks of dehydration 

If mild dehydration is not recognised or is left uncorrected, the effects can be serious and rapid.  Common consequences of dehydration include confusion, falls, pressure ulcers and UTIs. Dehydration can deteriorate rapidly and lead to unnecessary invasive clinical interventions and long-term outcomes that can result in the loss of independence, dignity and death.

Chronic dehydration also develops over time, which is why detailed, structured, standardised and regular assessments are needed.
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