Dehydration is a common cause of hospital admissions in older people, so it’s important to stay hydrated and therefore healthy if you’re staying at home.
Complications of being dehydrated include constipation, pressure ulcers, urinary tract infections and dizziness.
People over the age of 65 are more likely to become dehydrated as our sense of thirst decreases and our kidneys do not work as well. Certain conditions, such as dementia, may make it more physically difficult to drink or to remember to.
Signs of dehydration include tiredness, thirst, a dry mouth, dry skin, low blood pressure or confusion. It’s also vital in helping you stay cool during warm weather.
Staying hydrated helps digestion, keeps skin healthy and aids toxin removal from our bodies. It also has mental benefits as it reduces tiredness and confusion.
We should aim to drink six to eight drinks each day. Non-alcoholic fluids including water, tea, coffee, milk, fruit juice and smoothies all count. Caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee may irritate the bladder and increase the frequency or urgency of needing the loo. It’s best to choose decaffeinated versions if possible.
If you or an elderly loved-one are staying at home for long periods of time, you should always have fluids available to drink. You could add slices of lemon or cucumber to water to add natural flavour.
Here are some healthy hydration ideas to try:
- This is the number one drink for staying hydrated, you could add slices of lemon or cucumber to water to add natural flavour.
- Soft drinks such as squash count towards your daily water intake, but they are limited in nutrients. Squash is also a diuretic, so may not be ideal for elderly.
- Teas and coffees. These also count towards your daily water intake. You can add extra milk for more calories and protein. Try to stick to decaffeinated teas and coffees in the afternoons.
- Milk drinks are a great source of calcium, iodine, protein and B vitamins. If plain milk isn’t your thing, you can try hot chocolate or milkshakes and add fruit or yogurt to up the calorie and protein intake.
- Fruit and vegetable juices are great for getting one of your five-a-day. Unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juices also provide you with lots of vitamins and minerals.
- Soups and smoothies also contribute towards staying hydrated and provide a range of vitamins and minerals.