Dehydration is all too common in care home residents, simply due to them being at more risk of becoming dehydrated because of their age.
This also means they are also more at risk of the complications that can arise from dehydration, such as hydration-related illnesses.
So, why may residents become dehydrated?
A couple of reasons include:
• As mentioned above, age is a factor. As we get older, our natural feeling of thirst declines and, if we don’t feel thirsty, we don’t feel inclined to drink.
• If residents suffer from incontinence, they may limit the amount the drink to avoid any embarrassment.
• If residents struggle with eating and drinking, they may only be able to drink when aided.
So, when care staff are busy, it may mean that they are unable to drink as often as they would like to.
Understanding why someone is becoming dehydrated is vital when coming up with ways to encourage residents to drink.
So, to give you some ideas, here are 6 practical ways that you can encourage care home residents to drink:
1. Remind them of the importance of good hydration. From the health benefits staying hydrated has, to the health problems that dehydration can lead to (especially in the elderly), reminding your residents of the importance of good hydration will help encourage them to drink.
2. Experiment. Staying hydrated doesn’t just have to mean drinking water. Different flavoured drinks and drinks at different temperatures might appeal more to residents. So, encourage them to experiment with different types of drinks until they find one that’s more appealing, therefore meaning they’re happier to drink it.
3. Encourage them to eat foods with a high water content. As mentioned above, residents can do more than just drink water to stay hydrated. Encourage them to eat foods, such as fruits, yoghurts and soups, which all have a high water content.
4. Have set times to rehydrate. As a care home is a group setting, make drinking a group task. You could do this by having set times where you remind residents to drink and make it into something that they all do together.
5. Use a drinks trolley. You could do this as part of the experimentation idea mentioned above, leave the drinks trolley in a communal area or bring the drinks trolley to residents at specific times of day. The aim is to give residents enough choice that there will be something that takes their fancy, so they are more inclined to drink.
6. Encourage residents to keep a drinks bottle or special cup nearby. If residents have a vessel with them most of the time, that in itself will serve as a constant reminder to stay hydrated. There are different types of vessels that can be used, if they want something more discreet or easier to use than a standard bottle.
At the same time as all of the above, it’s also worth trying to limit certain beverages, such a tea and coffee due to their diuretic effects.
For residents who prefer to drink these, perhaps try encouraging them to opt for the decaffeinated versions, or alternate between tea/coffee and other beverages.
Ultimately, each of your residents will be different…
However, the important thing is to combine your understanding of why particular residents may be becoming dehydrated and then finding the best solution for them.
So, in addition to this, you might also like to have a look at our blog on how to identify the most common risk factors for dehydration in care home residents.
This will help you gain a more thorough understanding of the reasons why residents in your care may be more likely to suffer with dehydration