Water is an essential component of body composition. However, hydration problems rarely involve body water alone, but rather are a water and electrolyte problem. Older individuals are at increased risk for hydration problems for a variety of reasons. First, as an individual ages their total body water decreases from 50-70% to 40-50% of body weight. Second, older individuals tend to lose muscle cells, which increases the proportion of fat cells to muscle cells. Third, the risk of hydration problems is further increased with another age-related change involving the hormonally regulated thirst mechanism.
The purpose of this evidence-based guideline is to help health care providers in all settings determine adequate oral fluid intake for elders and to use strategies that will improve and maintain hydration. Ultimately, this guideline focuses on the prevention of dehydration through careful assessment, identification of elders at risk for hydration problems, and implementation of individualized nursing interventions based on a risk profile. Written 1998; Revised 2011.
Toolkit Included in Guideline:
- Hydration Assessment Form
- Armstrong Urine Color Chart
- 24-Hour Intake and Output Record
- Comparisons of Common Oral Fluids
- Knowledge Assessment Test
- Process Evaluation Monitor
- Nursing Outcomes Classification: Fluid Balance – 0601
- Outcomes Monitor
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