At Droplet, we are committed to helping people and their carers understand the importance of good hydration for better health. Dehydration is a common problem and elderly people suffering from health conditions like Alzheimer’s, Dementia & Parkinson’s are especially at risk. So how do you prevent it? And what are the signs you need to look for?
Signs of dehydration:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dark yellow and strong smelling urine
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded, sometimes with headaches
- Memory loss & confusion
- Persistent fatigue
- Dry mouth, lips and eyes
- Muscle cramps or weakness
- Going to the toilet very little (usually less than 4 times a day)
- Rapid breathing & increased heart rate
What is dehydration?
Put simply, dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in. If it isn’t treated it can rapidly get worse and lead to other health problems like constipation, urinary & respiratory tract infections, kidney stones and increased risk of falls. People may experience one or two, or many of the symptoms above depending on the severity of the dehydration. For carers, the early warning signs of dehydration can often be tricky to detect, especially if the person they are caring for doesn’t ‘feel’ thirsty or exhibit any obvious signs.
Elderly people face a greater risk of developing dehydration for a number of reasons. Firstly, the percentage of body water decreases with age which means as we get older, we have less water to lose before becoming dehydrated. Couple this with diseases (& associated swallowing disorders), neurologic conditions, obesity, fear of incontinence & some medications and it’s clear to see why this age group are at greater risk of dehydration.
How can you prevent dehydration from occurring in the first place?
There are lots of measures you can take to prevent dehydration in Elderly patients, including:
- Drinking fluids little and often (building up gradually)
- Monitoring urine colour (it should start to become paler as hydration improves
- Varying the drinks on offer and using Droplet to support people to drink voluntarily
- Offering foods with a high water content like fresh fruits and salad/vegetables (cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes are all great choices)
- As a carer it’s important to be aware of the fear of incontinence and offer support and insights that provide reassurance. Drinking small amounts of water throughout the day is good advice, with less on the run up to bedtime.
- Avoid drinks that have a diuretic effect like coffee, alcohol and protein-rich fluids – all of which can increase dehydration.
Can Hydration Aids Help?
Sometimes people don’t have a sense of how much they are drinking therefore Droplet can help the person (and their carer) identify when it’s time to take a drink.
Droplet identifies when the user has not drunk for some time and uses subtle flashing lights and recorded audio messages to remind the person to take a drink. Entirely customisable, it is designed in the familiar shape of the mugs and cups we use at home, making it recognisable and more enjoyable to drink from than the ‘baby beaker’ style cups often used in care homes and hospitals.
The Droplet reminder base has been designed to allow loved ones and carers to record positive messages that gently encourage the user to drink. As well as benefitting the user, it also alerts the carer so they can monitor hydration levels and patterns in patients whilst spotting the signs of potential dehydration early on.
The general information provided above is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please consult your GP.