Make your own free website on

Residents With Dehydration

Dehydration in nursing home residents is a common and dangerous problem requiring the involvement of the entire interdisciplinary team. The symptoms of dehydration among the elderly can be alarmingly swift and can quickly result in a life-threatening situation.

Schedule fluid administration at least three times a day between meals. Older people tolerate frequent administration of fluid in smaller quantities better than infrequent large quantities.

Offer at least a full glass of fluid with medications. Studies have shown that residents tend to drink the entire amount of fluid offered.

To maintain hydration, note the residents' preferences for type and temperature of fluids, and individualize the hydration plan to encourage compliance.

Instruct residents, staff, and family members about the importance of hydration. Involve the resident and family in establishing and meeting hydration goals.

Arrange for residents to eat meals and have snacks with others. Residents typically consume more food and fluids in a social setting. Be sure to offer beverages during all activity and therapy programs.

Provide good oral hygiene to encourage consumption of fluids.

Instruct staff to use a direct, positive approach when administering fluids. Avoid asking: "Do you want something to drink?" Instead, say "Here is some cool, refreshing water for you, Mrs. Jones." Older people may not feel thirsty and may not recognize their need for fluid

CNA's could offer small amounts of fluid every time they toilet a resident. One CNA could be assigned to make regular rounds with a beverage cart to offer fluids and assistance with toileting.

Nursing staff can leave fluids at the residents' bedsides and offer milk as a first line of defense against insomnia

Dehydration is a common and dangerous problem that threatens the lives of many elderly nursing home residents. Educating residents, family, and staff about the dangers of dehydration is the key to tackling this health problem. By taking a proactive approach to preventing dehydration, staff members can make great progress in reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and maximizing resident health and well-being.