Keeping older people safe and hydrated in the summer heat

July 12th 2018

With the south coast basking in the summer sun, the team at St Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre’s Minor Injuries Unit are asking people to look out for older friends, relatives and neighbours who might be suffering as a result of the hot weather.

Hospital director Penny Daniels 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.”

Penny’s top tips for keeping older people hydrated in the summer months include:

1. Offering a variety of drinks: Hot, cold, still, fizzy. Water is important but milk, tea, coffee and fruit juice all count.

2. Serving a drink with every meal or snack: 

3. Using a clear glass. Being able to see what’s inside the glass can help boost fluid consumption and using a straw also helps.

4. Serving 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.
5. Freezing drinks or yoghurts onto sticks using ice-lolly molds is a simple and effective way of keeping cool and hydrated.

6. Making drinks look appealing boost the amount people drink. Why not try a mocktail with all the trimmings?

7. Sharing a tea break with a neighbour will increase the amount of fluid you both drink.

8. Finally, milkshakes are not only great for hydrating an older person, but they also contain high levels of carbohydrates, giving them an energy boosting benefit as well as increasing fluid in-take.

Penny said: “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.”