The Dangers of Dehydration - Promoting Good Hydration in the Home Care Environment
In honour of Nutrition and Hydration Week 2018, we take a closer look at how to identify the symptoms and minimise the risk of dehydration and let you know what we're doing to support our Camden and Hampstead customers to stay healthy and hydrated.From 12th to the 18th March it’s Nutrition and Hydration Week, a campaign encouraging people to recognise the fundamental importance of good nutrition and staying hydrated for maintaining health and wellbeing. While we touched on the subject of healthy eating in our last blog, adequate hydration, particularly in the elderly population, is a huge issue in social care. Despite the fact that Regulation 14 of the Health and Social Care Act (2008) requires care providers to be responsible for making sure customers “have adequate nutrition and hydration to sustain life and good health and reduce the risks of malnutrition and dehydration”, the unfortunate truth is that many people in the care system still suffer from dehydration. As leading homecare providers, we understand the importance of maintaining good hydration and appreciate that we play a pivotal role in ensuring that our customers get all the support they need to stay healthy and hydrated.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when your body lacks the necessary fluid level to function properly due to an insufficient intake of fluid or excessive loss of fluid. The National Hydration Council report that most people don’t drink enough water and are not aware of how to hydrate healthily, which begs the question - do you know how much water you should be drinking? Well, the British Nutrition Foundation recommend that adults should drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day. Whilst water is probably the healthiest way to hydrate, any fluid counts - from a nice cup of tea to a glass of fruit juice.
Common Symptoms of Dehydration
Being on the look-out for symptoms of dehydration can stop problems before they start. If left untreated, dehydration can have very serious consequences and that’s why at Bluebird Care Camden and Hampstead, we believe everyone who is in contact with elderly or vulnerable people needs to be alert to the symptoms:
- Dark yellow/brown urine
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Dry mouth, tongue and lips
- Increased thirst
- Poor concentration
- Low blood pressure
- Poor skin and increased likelihood of pressure sores
Who is Most at Risk of Dehydration?
As your body is almost two-thirds water, it’s vital that fluid levels are kept within a healthy range but there are many reasons why this might be difficult for some people. Our vast experience of caring for people in their homes means we understand the challenges that people with certain health conditions may face when it comes to drinking enough and can identify which customers might be more at risk. Risk factors for dehydration include:
- Old age – older people are more vulnerable due to the physiological changes of ageing.
- Reduced sense of thirst – older people and those who have had a stroke or have dementia can have more difficulty feeling the sensation of thirst.
- Swallowing difficulties – people who have had a stroke, brain injury or live with a degenerative condition can have difficulty drinking and be at risk of aspirating fluid.
- Cognitive impairment – confusion and memory problems can mean people don’t think about basic tasks like drinking.
- Kidney problems – ageing can often affect the function of the kidneys which affects fluid regulation.
- Medication – medicines like diuretics and laxatives can cause excessive loss of fluids.
- Incontinence – people with this problem are often reluctant to drink for fear of not getting to the toilet in time.
- Physical disability – some people may find it hard to physically access fluids and/or have the capacity to drink them without assistance.
- Acute illness – sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea can all cause excessive fluid loss.
Knowing the risk factors means our in-home care teams can better ensure that every customer is supported to stay well-hydrated in a way that suits the individual.
Supporting Customers to Drink Plenty of Fluids and Stay Hydrated
The importance of good hydration can’t be understated. At Bluebird Care Camden and Hampstead, the wellbeing of our customers is paramount and our frontline homecare assistants are trained in monitoring customers’ fluid intake and taking swift, positive action when there are concerns, giving you peace of mind that you or your loved one is in safe hands.
A vital component of quality person-centred care is seeing an individual’s unique hydration needs and creating tailored care plans that support the person in the most effective way. So, whether it’s ensuring our customers have constant access to drinks they enjoy, physically assisting those who need help in the appropriate way, making sure people have special drinking utensils that make life easier, encouraging reluctant drinkers, giving customers foods (like soups and fruit) that will boost their fluid intake or simply having a friendly chat whilst sharing a hot cup of tea, we’re here to make sure everyone stays hydrated and healthy!
If you’d like to know more about how we support customers to avoid dehydration and live well at home or you have another query about our bespoke homecare, we’re always happy to have a chat. You can get in touch with us online or call us on 0207 449 0557.