Summer is the time to think about hydration
Being over summer, the festive season is a time of soaring temperatures so it’s important to offer plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can lead to many complications such as constipation, urinary tract infections, confusion and falls, to name a few. The good news is that with the support from your dietitian, staff, other health professionals and family members, dehydration can be easily preventable.
Try the following strategies to get more fluids into our residents:
Serve fluids throughout the day. Sipping throughout the day is a lot easier to manage than having to drink large amounts at a time. Offering fluids at meal times and a couple times in between can make it easier. Waiting until a resident is feeling thirsty or is requesting a drink could be a sign that the resident is already dehydrated. Residents don’t always realise when they may be thirsty either as thirst perception declines with ageing.
Serve a variety of beverages. Beverages such as water, cordial, juices, milk, flavoured milk, milo, milkshakes, tea, coffee, ice coffee, soft drinks, fruit smoothies or freshly squeezed juices. Each of your residents will have a preference in fluids, so remember to record this in their dietary assessment and look back at it.
Have constant access to fluids at all times of the day and night. Ensure residents have access to water jugs/stations. Offering additional assistance to those residents who require assistance with pouring and/or drinking fluids will increase their chances of drinking more.
Monitor the residents who have a high risk of dehydration and UTIs. Starting fluid charts can assist in monitoring those residents who are known to be at risk of dehydration. This can then assist in knowing who needs extra assistance and encouragement.
Use any opportunity to increase fluid intake. Staff can encourage residents to drink a whole cup of water with their medications in preference to just having a few sips. During meal times, a designated staff member could be responsible for actively refilling resident cups and monitoring resident fluid intake. Residents are more likely to drink when they have frequent opportunity to drink.
These are some other suggestions that don’t always involve fluids:
Foods also have water content. Providing foods that have a high water content can also assist with hydration. Food items such as ice cream, custards, icy-poles, soups, jelly and yoghurts have high water content. Serve seasonal fruit (like watermelon) in wedges as a snack or dessert on hot days for a source of extra fluid and a great finger food option.
Source: Coach Tami
Make it fun for the residents. Lifestyle staff can create “Hydration” events that residents can be involved in. Residents can squeeze or make their own juices or smoothies. This not only provides another activity for residents but can also improve hydration with delicious and nutritious drinks!