Hydration essentials

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Many people do not drink enough and this is particularly true of older people, those who are sick and people in mental health crisis.

Ask yourself: can the person reach for, lift and hold a drink? If the answer to this is no, then they need your help to stay hydrated.

Signs of dehydration are:

  • thirst 
  • feeling dizzy/lightheaded 
  • sleepiness/tiredness 
  • dry, sticky mouth 
  • headache 
  • passing small amounts of dark, concentrated urine.

If not identified early dehydration can lead to:

  • constipation
  • infections
  • delayed healing
  • confusion
  • death.

The suggested amount of fluid is 2.5 litres unless there are clinical contraindications:

  • encourage people to drink small amounts of water throughout the day
  • ensure that clean, fresh water is accessible
  • encourage additional intake at meal times and when taking medication
  • encourage visitors to assist the person to drink
  • monitor regularly for signs of dehydration.

If someone is unable to swallow safely then assisted hydration should be administered to prevent dehydration and distress.