Professor Angela Kydd, Clinical Professor in Nursing at Robert Gordon University and NHS Grampian, discusses the impact of dehydration in older adults.
Food and drink are fundamental staples in our everyday lives. Not only do they play an essential part in our overall health, but they also hold holistic significance, influencing our daily habits, giving us a sense of familiarity, and helping us build relationships through social interaction. As we age the simple pleasures of food and drink become all the more profound. Yet, many older adults living in care, finding they can no longer fully dictate what they eat or drink, nor prepare their meals and enjoy these in sociable settings, can become susceptible to malnutrition and dehydration. Since around 60% of our body is made up of water, drinking enough fluids is essential for ensuring we can carry out necessary cognitive and physiological functions every day. Indeed, long-term dehydration in older adults can result in increased risk of falls, salivary dysfunction, poor hyperglycaemic control in diabetes and constipation.