Dehydration in elderly can be a precipitating factor for a number of acute medical conditions as confusional states, delirium, renal failure, infection, falls and pressure ulcers, increasing hospital stay, morbidity and mortality.
Prevention of dehydration, primarily based on ensuring adequate fluid intake, may improve health, functional status and quality of life.
Daily water intake recommendations, for adults, are usually 1.5 to 2 liters, depending of individual factors as body volume, health status, daily activity and external factors, as temperature, diet, that might lead to increased requirements.
Drinking water is the best known way to maintaining a correct hydration status and should constitute the bulk of daily intake but there´s other drinks and foods that can be useful to provide fluids intake:
- Tea and Infusions
- Fruit juice
- Flavored water
There are some strategies, in addition to providing drinks for elderly, to improve fluid consumption during the day:
- Monitoring fluid status.
- Include liquid ingestion in daily routine (eg. drink a glass of water after wake-up, drink a glass of water with medicines).
- Provide liquids readily available (drink often).
- Properly managed cases of urinary incontinence and reduced mobility so that patients will be less likely to avoid fluid.
- Encourage the consumption of foods rich in water.
- Maintaining fluids intake registers.
- Raising awareness among the elderly, their families and caregivers of the risks of dehydration.