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Why do we monitor fluid balance in care settings? Understanding the importance & providing support

Updated: Aug 16, 2023


Monitoring fluid balance is a vital aspect of providing care as it helps ensure that the body is working as it should. By monitoring fluid balance, healthcare professionals can detect any fluctuations early on and take appropriate measures to correct them, improving overall health outcomes for those in their care.


 

Why are older people susceptible to dehydration?


Older people are particularly vulnerable to developing dehydration due to physiological changes associated with ageing. These include a deterioration in kidney function, not having a sense of thirst and a reduction in muscle mass where most water in the body is stored. A decline in physical state (e.g. arthritis, poor mobility, loss of sight), cognitive impairment and/ or swallowing difficulties may also influence older people’s ability to obtain and consume fluids.


Why is monitoring fluid balance important?


Monitoring fluid balance is an essential aspect of maintaining good health and preventing health complications, especially in care settings. It is crucial to ensure that those in care are adequately hydrated and actively avoid dehydration, which can cause numerous health issues, including headaches, fatigue, and dizziness.


For patients with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease or heart failure, monitoring their fluid balance is vital for their health because they may need to limit their intake to prevent fluid build up in the body. If this is the case, then alterations must be made to their care plans.


Monitoring fluid balance can also help detect early signs of other health problems in care settings. For example, excessive fluid retention can be a sign of heart failure or liver disease. Accurately monitoring can help healthcare providers detect these issues early on and take appropriate measures to prevent further health complications.


In addition to these benefits, monitoring fluid balance in care settings can also help manage medication administration. Certain medications require specific fluid restrictions or specific fluid intake to be effective. Monitoring fluid in care settings ensures that patients are receiving the appropriate amount of fluids to maximise the effectiveness of their medication.


Tips for encouraging those in your care to drink:


  • Serve small cups of water alongside tea and coffee.

  • Encourage more water when taking tablets.

  • Use positive encouragement rather than asking if someone wants a drink.

  • Make drinks easily accessible and have small tables available for placing drinks near residents.

  • Hand cups to residents that cannot reach for drinks.

  • Offer foods with a high fluid content, e.g. melon, cucumber, ice lollies, soup and sauces.

  • Provide social occasions to encourage drinking, e.g. afternoon teas.


Monitoring fluid balance is crucial in care settings for overall patient health and well-being. By paying attention to fluid intake and output, healthcare providers can maintain adequate hydration levels, prevent health complications, and detect early signs of health problems. It is essential to make accurate fluid balance monitoring a routine in patient care plans across care settings to ensure residents stay healthy.


Get in touch with one of our hydration experts to learn how you can improve hydration in your care setting by filling out the form below.



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