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Senior nurse urges people to look out for others at risk of dehydration during hot weather

Company news

A Care UK nurse is urging people to look out for older friends, relatives and neighbours who might be suffering as a result of the hot weather.

And a helping hand has been extended to family carers with top tips for keeping loved ones hydrated as the mercury rises.

Jason Axford, a senior nurse with many years of experience nursing older people, said: “While many of us are very happy that summer has finally arrived, it's important to remember not everyone enjoys the hot weather. In fact for some people high temperatures can be incredibly dangerous, triggering health issues like heat exhaustion, dehydration and breathing problems.

“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 decrease, 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 don't have to get up in the night. It's 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 – a guide for family carers on how to successfully support individuals to eat well and stay hydrated in older age: 

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Offer a variety of drinks
    Hot, cold, still, or 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, remember to 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 to increase fluid intake
  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 the levels of fluid consumed
  7. Serve foods that are high in fluid
    Some fruits contain up to 90 per cent 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're simple to make and an effective way of keeping hydrated in the heat
  9. Try a Horlicks or hot chocolate
    Even in hot weather these drinks aren't 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

Jason added: “It's 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. Contact your GP if symptoms persist or worsen.”

Eating as we age is the latest in a series of advice guides for family carers from Care UK and can be picked up from any Care UK home or downloaded from its website.

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