Colne View care home on Dame Mary Walk is urging people in Halstead to look out for older friends, relatives and neighbours who might be suffering as a result of the hot weather, and it has extended a helping hand for family carers with top tips for keeping loved ones hydrated.
Jason Axford, lead quality development manager at Care UK, explained: “While many people look forward to the summer months, it is important to remember not everyone enjoys the hot weather. In fact for some people high temperatures can be incredibly dangerous, triggering breathing problems, heat exhaustion and dehydration.
“This is even more of a concern for older people, who are more likely to feel the effects of a sunny spell. Our kidneys become less effective as we age and our body water content decreases, which means the threat of dehydration can become a real issue – and this is a frequent cause of hospitalisation among older people.
“Ageing and conditions such as dementia also affect the body’s ability to feel thirst, so some people may well forget to drink; while others may also avoid fluids later in the day so they do not have to get up in the night. It is therefore vital to help loved ones and older people in our local communities to get plenty of fluids – especially during a prolonged hot spell.”
Jason has highlighted some of his top tips to keeping hydrated in warmer weather, from Eating as we age – Care UK’s guide for family carers on how to successfully support individuals to eat well and stay hydrated in older age.
- Make drinks look as appealing as possible
Add a slice of lemon to a jug of water, serve cordials in vintage jugs or create mocktails with all the trimmings. Create interest with different smells, colours and flavours
- Make an occasion of a drink
Share a tea break or invite a neighbour round for afternoon drinks to make fluid consumption part of a social activity
- Offer a variety of drinks
Hot, cold, still, fizzy. Water is important, but milk, tea, coffee and fruit juice all count
- Serve a drink with every meal or snack
If your loved one has a favourite cup or glass, remember to use that one as often as you can
- Use a clear glass
Being able to see what’s inside the glass can help boost fluid consumption. Using a straw will also help to increase fluid intake
- Always monitor the amount of fluid
Use a jug that has a measure down the side, or a bottle with a measure to monitor the levels of fluid consumed
- 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
- Stay cool in the sun
On a hot day, freeze drinks or yoghurts onto sticks using moulds for healthy ice lollies. They are simple to make and an effective way of keeping hydrated in the heat
- 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
- Sit with the person
Remind your loved one to sip during their meal
Jason 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, download Care UK’s Eating as we age – a free guide for older people and their family carers on how to eat well and stay hydrated in older age.