With the county basking in the summer sun, Hartismere Place care home is asking people in Eye to look out for older friends, relatives and neighbours who might be suffering as a result of the hot weather.
Cathryn Weed, home manager at Hartismere Place, explained: “While many people look forward to the summer months, high temperatures can be a real problem for older people, triggering breathing problems, heat exhaustion and dehydration. Our kidneys become less effective as we age and our body water content decreases. Conditions such as dementia also affect the body’s ability to feel thirst.”
Cathryn has offered some top tips to keeping hydrated in the summer months, taken from Care UK’s Eating as we age advice guide:
1. Make drinks look appealing: Create interest with different smells, colours and flavours. Add a slice of lemon to water, serve cordials in vintage jugs or create mocktails with all the trimmings.
2. Make an occasion of a drink: Share a tea break or invite a neighbour round for afternoon drinks to make fluid consumption a social activity.
3. Offer a variety of drinks: Hot, cold, still, fizzy. Water is important but milk, tea, coffee and fruit juice all count.
4. Serve a drink with every meal or snack: If your loved one has a favourite cup or glass, use that one as often as you can.
5. Use a clear glass: Being able to see what’s inside the glass can help boost fluid consumption. Using a straw will also help.
6. Always monitor the amount of fluid: Use a jug that has a measure down the side, or a bottle with a measure to monitor fluid intake.
7. Serve foods that are high in fluid: Some fruits contain up to 90% water and are packed with vitamins and nutrients that are great for keeping your loved one fit and healthy. Ice cream, vegetables, gravy and jelly are also all great hydrating foods.
8. Stay cool in the sun: On a hot day, freeze drinks or yoghurts onto sticks using moulds for healthy ice lollies. They are a simple and effective way of keeping cool and hydrated.
9. Try a Horlicks or hot chocolate: Even in hot weather these drinks are not only great for hydrating your loved one, but they also contain high levels of carbohydrates so will give them an energy boost too.
10. Sit with the person: Remind your loved one to sip a drink during their meal.
Cathryn added: “It is important to look out for signs of dehydration in older people including muscle cramps in the arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should rest in a cool place out of the sun and drink plenty of fluids, but it is important to contact a GP if symptoms persist or worsen.”
For more top tips about healthy eating in older age, pop in to Hartismere Place to pick up your free copy of Care UK’s Eating as we age guide, or download the guide at careuk.com/eat.