Age UK Norwich and experts from the University of East Anglia (UEA) have teamed up to tackle dehydration in later life, producing new resources aimed at older people and professionals. 1 in 4 older people are dehydrated[i],many without realising, leaving them vulnerable to strokes, infections and falls.
The partners have produced a video and information booklet on hydration for the public, focusing on the fact that all adults should be drinking 3½ pints of fluid every day (unless advised otherwise by their doctor). Age UK Norwich and the UEA Hydrate Group have also produced training materials for health and social care professionals and health coaches, helping them work effectively with older people, encouraging them to drink well and maintain good hydration. Drinking, such a simple thing for most younger people, can often be overlooked as we get older.
Dan Skipper, CEO at Age UK Norwich said “Lots of people have no idea they need to drink more, or how serious dehydration can be. It can lead to dizziness and confusion, headaches and even strokes and falls, so it’s vital we get people thinking about their fluid intake and drinking more if necessary. Watching our short video gives advice on avoiding serious health problems. If you’re not online, you can just give us a call and we’ll send you some information. You might not usually think about hydration and how much you drink, but now’s the time to start – it will reduce health risks and could even save your life!”
Mr Skipper added “This is a great opportunity to prevent people getting unwell or being hospitalised due to dehydration – without the need for drugs, treatment or expensive health or care services. As a country, we need to get better at prevention, which is why we have produced this programme.”
Dr Lee Hooper, Reader in Research Synthesis, Nutrition & Hydration, from Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia said “When you’re older you can be dehydrated, but not feel thirsty at all, so you can’t rely on thirst to guide how much you drink. Drinking at least 3 ½ pints every day is right for most people. It doesn’t just have to be water – tea, coffee, juice, soup, milk and fizzy drinks all count. Find something you like and make sure you’re drinking plenty throughout the day. It could make a big difference to how you feel and help you stay healthy in later life.”
The UEA Hydrate Group, led by Dr Lee Hooper and Dr Diane Bunn, have been carrying out important research on drinking and hydration in older adults for some years. Their research highlights how important it is for our health to drink well, and focuses on how to help older adults achieve hydration. Earlier this year, researchers at UEA launched a campaign on dehydration, sending posters to GP surgeries and care homes raising awareness that 1 in 4 older people are dehydrated. More information on that project can be found here.
Dr Diane Bunn, Associate Professor of Nursing Research, stated “Older people drink less for a variety of reasons. As well as not feeling thirsty we may have fewer social occasions when we drink with others, may forget to drink or may worry about getting to the toilet. Finding drinks we enjoy, drinking with others and ensuring that getting to the toilet is planned in can all help. Our new materials are filled with ideas and information to help older people tackle these issues. Please do try them out.”
The video and information resources launching today were developed by working with Age UK Norwich Health Coaches and older people themselves. They are available online at www.ageuknorwich.org.uk/advice. Those who aren’t online can call Age UK Norwich on 01603 496333 for information and advice.