On Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th September Brookside produced and tasted fruit smoothies in aid of falls awareness week. It may not be initially obvious, but dehydration can be a major contributor to falls amongst the elderly population.
Therefore, Brookside set to work with residents chopping fruit to be blended into smoothies and interesting cordials were purchased for the residents to try. A coconut and a ginger and pear cordial were both well received, and the most popular smoothie was a banana and chocolate flavour.
There are many risk factors that make our elderly population particularly susceptible to dehydration:
Many of the illnesses and ailments associated with old age can cause a reduced sensation for thirst, Alzheimer’s disease and Strokes in particular may further pronounce this issue. The person may not actually recognise that they are thirsty, or they may feel the sensation but be unable to recognise what it means.
Many older people who suffer with continence issues may actively avoid fluids, to reduce the need for trips to the loo and to lessen the risk of embarrassment in the event of an accident.
Many older people have a reduced renal function, and this means the hormonal response to dehydration which protects most of us may be impaired.
Cognitive impairment may mean that an individual loses the awareness that they need to drink or may leave them unsure of how to access the fluids they need.
Older people may need diuretic or laxative type medications, which can further reduce the amount of fluids present in the body.
Once dehydrated, an individual is left vulnerable to falls due to the effects which it brings, signs and symptoms of dehydration can include:
- Increased hypotension (low blood pressure) leading to dizziness, light headedness and nausea
- Impaired mental performance. Memory can be compromised, attention can be limited, concentration can suffer, and reaction times can be slowed.
- Lethargy may again impact on awareness and reaction times
Looking at these symptoms makes it far easier to understand how dehydration can lead to increased risk of falls. Jamie Carter, Registered Manager at Brookside said, ‘It’s important that everyone within the home has an understanding of the dangers of dehydration, it’s not just a job for our care team, but also our housekeepers, maintenance and administrative teams all have a role to play in managing hydration with our residents. Activities like this allow conversations around fluids to be opened and as a result we become more aware of individual risk factors and in turn, they become more empowered to manage their own hydration needs. It is our hope that these conversations will ultimately lead to a reduction in falls and a safer environment for our residents .’
According to the NHS one in three adults over 65 who live at home will have one fall per year and around half of those will fall more frequently. Even more worryingly, falls are the most common cause of injury related death in people over 75. Therefore, it is imperative that when you care for a loved one you consider their hydration needs. Activity Coordinator Elena says, ‘We hope that we can lead by example as part of an organisation that is truly committed to the health and wellbeing of it’s residents. Maybe someone will read our blog and use it to change the way they think about hydration, after all it is important for everyone’