Recent studies have underlined the importance of hydration for the elderly. Now the UK’s WHA (Water Dispenser and Hydration Association) has put together a leaflet with detailed advice and guidance, called ‘Why Water Matters for elderly People’. It is available to download from the WHA website at twha.co.uk.
When Age UK Norwich and the University of East Anglia (UEA) researched the issue, they said that one in four elderly people are dehydrated, many without realising it. A key issue is that as we age we tend to drink less water. Although fluids from other sources also contribute to hydration, such as tea, cold drinks, soup and salad, many elderly need to avoid excess sugar so drinking water is a good habit to get into.
The WHA leaflet describes some of the benefits of good hydration in the elderly, such as better kidney health and greater cognitive ability. Dehydration on the other hand can have serious consequences, including potential harm to the liver, kidneys, muscles and joints. The Age UK/UEA research warned of the risks of strokes, infections and falls.
“Having water that is convenient and easily dispensed, which tastes good, is cool, and is safe and hygienic, helps entice elderly people to hydrate more frequently.”
How can carers tell if their elderly people are dehydrated? The WHA has a Healthy Hydration Chart, which is also available to download from its website. It’s more familiarly known as the pee chart, because the colour of urine is an easy way to check hydration. The chart shows the differences in colour of urine, from healthy (pale straw) to poorly hydrated (dark).
One way to encourage the elderly to take more water on board is to have it readily available to drink – which is where water dispensers come in. “It’s essential to make drinking water accessible,” says Phillipa Clow, general manager of the WHA. “Having water that is convenient and easily dispensed, which tastes good, is cool, and is safe and hygienic, helps entice elderly people to hydrate more frequently.”
The leaflet then gives advice about the choice of dispensers. “It’s always best to get expert advice before making a decision, especially when working with vulnerable people” says Clow. “WHA members are audited and must adhere to strict quality standards, so they can deliver the best in terms of accredited expertise.”
There’s a full list of members under the ‘find a member’ tab at twha.co.uk.
The WHA (Water Dispenser and Hydration Association) is the voice of the water dispenser and hydration industry. Its members are committed to offering the very best in terms of quality, trust and standards. For more information visit twha.co.uk