Beat the heat: Hydration advice for the elderly this summer

Written by Ranger Home Care
25 June 2024

Staying hydrated is crucial for everyone during the summer months. The effects of becoming dehydrated can be very unpleasant, including dizziness, fatigue and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

When it comes to hydration for the elderly, staying hydrated is especially important. Any side effects could cause serious health complications to individuals with fragile or compromised immune systems.

Read on for a comprehensive guide on how the elderly can stay properly hydrated.

The importance of hydration

As we age, our ability to conserve water decreases and we may not thirst as much. This can put older adults at higher risk of dehydration as they won’t feel as thirsty, even when their bodies need fluids.

If we don’t get enough hydration, we can develop kidney problems. So, adequate hydration is vital, not only for keeping your kidneys working properly, but also for preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs).

UTIs are very common in elderly people and can lead to worsening health problems if not treated. It is easy for older individuals to neglect their health due to confusion, memory problems and mobility issues.

How much fluid is needed?

How much fluid an elderly person needs depends on a few factors – their current health conditions, medications and lifestyle. Around 8 glasses (approximately 2 litres) of fluid a day is the general recommendation for an adult.

This doesn’t have to just be water and can come from other drinks such as tea, juice, or fruit and vegetables rich in water, like strawberries, apples or cucumber.

If you have any health conditions like kidney disease or heart problems, it’s important to regularly see your GP for personalised advice. This is because your fluid intake needs to be monitored if you have either of these conditions.

Tips for increasing fluid intake

Set regular reminders

If you find it difficult to remember to drink regularly, use phone alarms or notes around the house to remind yourself throughout the day. You could also ask a family member or friend you see often to remind you.

Enhance the appeal of water

Water isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you struggle drinking it, try adding slices of lemon, mint, cucumber or berries. Making it tastier and more appealing will encourage you to get enough fluids and enjoy it at the same time.

Eat water-rich foods

Plenty of fruit and vegetables are full of water. Incorporating foods like cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges and watermelons into your diet helps to increase hydration levels.

Keep water accessible

Keep a bottle of water within easy reach. If you find it hard to move around, keep a few in different areas of your home, to save having to walk further than you need to.

For example, one by your regular armchair, one in the kitchen, one outside in the garden. It’s important to always have water or other fluids with you when you go out anywhere, to avoid dehydration in warm weather.

How to monitor hydration

It can sometimes be hard to spot signs of dehydration – especially in the elderly. Look for symptoms of dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, trouble with producing urine or dark-coloured urine. If you keep an eye out for these signs regularly, you can prevent dehydration before it becomes serious.

Creating a personalised hydration plan

A new health initiative in Sussex has been created to provide tailored hydration plans for the elderly and vulnerable. Southern Water and the Health and Independent Living Support (HILS) have teamed up to offer water bottles alongside the meals-on-wheels service, to those who need it.

These type of initiatives are a good example of how to design a personalised hydration plan, especially if you have regular UTIs. Discussing your particular health needs with health professionals, and devising ways to incorporate more fluids, will make a big difference in hydration habits.

Staying hydrated during outings

If you’re planning for an outing or spending time in your garden, it’s important to be hydrated – especially in the heat, when it’s easy to dehydrate without realising it.

Bring enough water, wear a hat and loose, breathable clothing if you can. Try to stay in the shade as much as possible and avoid the peak heat hours (11am-3pm) of the day.

Helpful technology

When you’re older, technology might seem confusing and something you’d rather leave to the young. But there are plenty of reasons why technology can be useful.

For example, there are apps available that can track fluid intake and remind you to drink water. So, if you forget to drink regularly throughout the day, using reminders like these can be invaluable.

Maintain hydration with live-in care

Hydration for the elderly is key to maintaining health and wellness, especially during the hot summer months. If you and your loved ones understand these challenges, you can ensure you remain hydrated and healthy.

Ranger Home Care offers tailored live-in care services, ensuring your loved ones receive the support they need in their own home. Our carers provide essential daily care as well as companionship and medical assistance when needed. With a live-in carer, you will be assured to remain healthy and hydrated as they follow your personalised care plan 24/7.

If you want to know more about the benefits of live-in care, Ranger Home Care is ready to help. Call 01252-850-040 or email natalie@rangerhomecare.com today.

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