While I don’t want to be an alarmist, this series that came out in 2002, albeit a while ago, it is still relevant today I believe: http://www.ccfj.net/NHSTLseries.html
So why should I bring this up now?
You will all be experiencing the heat wave we are going through at the moment and probably finding you are drinking more fluids than you would perhaps normally.
However it is good to remember that the older one gets the less likely they are to reach for or call for a glass of water. From the age of 60 thirst becomes blunted which quite simply means they don’t feel thirsty.
Therefore it is up to us as caregivers to think for our patients and offer fluids very frequently – at least 50 mls an hour, to enable them to remain hydrated.
Signs And Symptoms
To remind you of the signs and symptoms of dehydration check out this video:
However there are two early signs left off this list: falls and headaches.
Just think about how you feel when you are out in the hot sun and haven’t had a drink.
Now I know you get very busy and it is not easy to remember all the little things that need to be done.
But if a person does not ask for a drink, then it is likely to be forgotten or overlooked.
Failing to give a person adequate fluids is abuse though, as you will see in this blog article: http://www.nursinghomesabuseblog.com/dehydration/
Take Extra Care
On top of this, if a person dies as a result of dehydration, then you are likely to be culpable or blameworthy as the death could have been prevented as you can see in this article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11317558
Admittedly the nurse here appears to have had inadequate supervision.
But at the end of the day, two basics in the care of the elderly need to be understood by all your staff…
- As people age their thirst becomes blunted
- They are unlikely to ask for a drink
So if you don’t ensure they have enough fluid they may quietly slip away from you and die.
This can be labeled as abuse, and the neglect and death from dehydration is preventable.
Learn more here:
Get Creative In Providing Fluids
So how can you very simply provide fluid for those in your care?
- Have fluid rounds in addition to the normal morning, afternoon tea and supper
- Offer ice blocks sometimes as a variety
- Watermelons are very inexpensive at certain times of year and it a very enjoyable way to help with hydration
- Jelly is another easy way to get people to take fluids
Have a discussion among your colleagues and see what other enjoyable ways you can get fluid into people. You may be surprised at what you come up with.
At a recent workshop I was at on fluid and electrolyte balance the presenter talked about an excellent book you may be interested in. “Fluid & Electrolyte Balance – Nursing Considerations” by Norma Metheny which can be purchased here: http://www.jblearning.
And of course for Care Training Online members it may be timely for you to review, do or redo the Hydration topic online.
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