Hydration and older people in the UK: addressing the problem, understanding the solutions

Document type
Report
Corporate author(s)
International Longevity Centre UK
Publisher
International Longevity Centre - UK
Date of publication
24 December 2014
Subject(s)
Older Adults, Health Services, Social Work, Social Care and Social Services
Collection
Social welfare
Material type
Reports

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Dehydration can have a severe impact on health and well-being, leading to functional and long term health problems, particularly in older people, but as yet this is rarely reflected in the development of nutrition and health policy. Hydration remains an area of health and social care policy which continues to be overlooked, often due to the mistaken assumption that it is included as a part overall nutritional care. Whilst it is true that the two issues are inextricably linked, hydration needs to be considered as a key public health issue in its own right, which requires separate attention and guidance.

This Action plan outlines the key factors resulting in dehydration for older people (particularly vulnerable older people) and highlights the need for urgent reform in both regulation and policy with regard to this issue. It considers five main areas of hydration policy and practice: raising awareness, good practice, screening, workforce training and research to better understand the current situation and the gaps in ensuring good hydration across all care settings.

The report also presents the challenges and solutions to drinking and hydration issues for older people whether living independently, in care homes or during hospital stays. There are many effective projects aiming to address hydration issues in the UK. The effectiveness of small, inexpensive interventions in addressing hydration issues and their associated health risks has been proven and some of those case studies are presented here. The Forum urges organisations to support our aim of developing appropriate policy and actions to tackle this key health area.

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