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Prevalence, risk factors and strategies to prevent dehydration in older adults

by K Wotton, K Crannitch, R Munt


The treatment of dehydration in older adults admitted from residential care to an acute hospital setting may lead to haemodynamic stability. There is however an increased risk for short or long term alterations in physiological, cognitive and psychological status and ultimately, decreased quality of life. Such acute care admissions could be decreased where preventative strategies tailored to address individual risk factors are combined with more frequent assessment of the degree of hydration. The questionable reliability of assessment criteria in older adults increases the need to use multiple signs and symptoms in the identification and differentiation of early and late stages of dehydration. This article reviews various risk factors, explores the reliability of clinical signs and symptoms and reinforces the need to use multiple patient assessment cues if nurses are to differentiate between, and accurately respond to, the various causes of dehydration. Specific strategies to maintain hydration in older adults are also identified.

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