Dehydration in older people is associated with risk of poor health outcomes such as falls, heart disease, confusion, pressure ulcers, poor wound healing, infections, drug toxicity, and poor quality of life. People with dementia are about 10 times as likely to be admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of dehydration1. Early identification, prevention and treatment of dehydration in the community would be good for older people and reduce NHS costs. As assessment of blood osmolality (a good measure of hydration) is not commonly available in residential care, a simple tool (a short decision tree of tests) that could be carried out day to day by older people or their carers, that accurately indicates hydration status, is desirable.
This research aims to improve health and wellbeing of older people in the community through:
- Identifying a tool that can be used in residential care (with older people who have or do not have dementia) to identify early dehydration, so that prevention and treatment strategies can be rapidly mobilised.
- This tool will be refined through work with expert groups of older people living in care homes, who will help us ensure that the final test is acceptable to older people, and care home staff who will make sure the test is fit and realistic for daily use in care homes. The final tool will be re-tested in another population of older people.
- Dissemination of the tool to identify dehydration.
DRIE is funded by the National Institute of Health Research through a 3-year Career Development fellowship to Lee Hooper (CI).
1 Natalwala A, Potluri R, Uppal H, Heun R. Reasons for hospital admissions in dementia patients in Birmingham, UK, during 2002-2007. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 2008; 26:499-505.