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How to combat dehydration in Long Term Care

Dehydration is one of the most common conditions among senior citizens.

Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, and may have conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration. This means that even minor illnesses can result in dehydration in older adults.

Unfortunately, dehydration is common in long term care facilities and continues to be a challenge to manage. While these facilities depend on staff to record resident fluid intake, it’s not always the most reliable solution.

“Dehydration is common in long-term care and there are many challenges with monitoring of hydration. Often one shift or meal is “forgotten” with no documentation so it is difficult to know their fluid intake,” says Janelle Friesen, Dietary Field Supervisor/Dietitian at Heritage Operations Group in Bloomington, Illinois.

Reinforce Hydration Recording

To make sure your residents are adequately hydrated, you first need to educate your staff about the dangers of dehydration. Then you may want to implement a “hydration guideline” for staff to follow. Reinforce this practice and hold your staff accountable. Your staff should record how much water is given to a resident with each meal and how much of it is consumed after the meal. While hydration is equally important to all residents, it’s especially critical to those with compromised health, putting them at a higher risk of dehydration.

“As people age they may lose the ability to feel “thirsty” so they will consume less fluid than they used to. If they have dementia or Alzheimer’s they may not even be able to feel thirst or let someone know that they are thirsty. Other residents are dependent on staff to feed and provide them with fluids if they can’t tell the staff they are thirsty,” added Friesen.

Make Water More Accessible

Many residents are physically active and participate in group activities or exercises and therefore need to drink more water. One way to make water more accessible is by placing water stations in several locations throughout the building such as in common areas, dining rooms, hallways, therapy rooms, activity rooms and even by the building entrance as some may leave for off-site appointments or activities. Always include a fresh pitcher of water by the bedside in their rooms and keep track of the intake.

“At Heritage we expect that they will receive a water glass at each meal along with other fluids like milk, juices, ice tea, coffee, etc.  We often have hydration stations in our buildings and offer fluids at many activities,” added Friesen.

The Solution

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Provide your staff with the right tools to measure accurate results in less time.ldt6-icedtea

Cambro's Healthcare Solutions includes tumblers that have been specifically designed for health and aged care facilities. These contain markers so staff can accurately monitor and track a patients' fluid intake from the top down. 

You can view the full range of Camrbo Healthcare Solutions here.

Dehydration is a widespread condition in long term care facilities. Long term care professionals can work to reduce the risk of dehydration among their residents by reinforcing guidelines to better track hydration.

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