The importance of hydration in older people

Water makes up over two-thirds of a healthy human body. So it's not surprising that in order to stay healthy, we need to stay hydrated.  Some of the benefits of staying hydrated include  regulated body temperature as well as other mental and physical health benefits. It lubricates your joints and eyes, aids digestion, flushes out waste and toxins, and keeps your skin healthy.

It is particularly important for older people to stay hydrated because as we grow older, our bodies change and we can be more likely to suffer from dehydration. For instance our kidneys might not work as well, we might be less aware of when we’re thirsty or we might find it physically more difficult to drink. Not drinking enough can affect our health and stop us feeling well. It can also lead to serious infections (such as urinary tract infection), make other illnesses worse or lead to physical injury as a result of a fall.

According to a report published by The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine last year, care home residents are most at risk of dehydration. The journal reports on dehydration in acute medical admissions among patients aged 65 years and above. The findings show that patients admitted from care homes are 10 times more likely to be dehydrated compared with those
admitted from their own homes. Even after adjustments for factors such as age and dementia, the rate is still five times higher.

Hydrate in care homes is one of our key workstreams in the Living Well For Longer programme. It aims to support care homes to ensure their residents are well hydrated, improving their health and well-being and reducing avoidable hospital admissions.

For more information, contact Frances Scott, Improvement Manager.​