As the warm weather continues, Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group has issued advice encouraging good hydration and nutrition in people over 65 years of age. Drinking plenty of fluids not only helps keep people cool as temperatures rise but can help ward off a number of serious conditions that can be fatal in the frail or those with long term conditions.
If older people don’t drink enough they carry an increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, heatstroke and heat exhaustion, among other health problems such as urine infections, which can lead to hospitalisation.
Staff at the CCG’s Quality in Care Homes (QiCH) team, a programme in partnership with local NHS community services provider, CSH Surrey, have been focusing efforts on improving hydration and nutrition among care home residents in the Surrey Downs area for the past year - work that has been highly commended by Healthwatch Surrey - and has useful tips and advice to share with anyone over 65 who is finding the warmer weather uncomfortable.
Jennifer Halliday, Urgent Care and Integration Project Support Manager at Surrey Downs CCG, said: “Keeping cool in hot weather is vital for the health of older people and those living in care homes. Heatwaves can prove fatal in some cases, but with proper hydration and nutrition many ill effects can be avoided. Six to eight glasses of fluids a day is the ideal but this can be hard to achieve."
A spokesperson from the QiCH team said: “In care homes we created ‘hydration stations’ so residents were better able to serve themselves water, squash and other drinks at any point throughout the day, without having to wait for food service or ask a member of staff.
“Warm weather can also reduce people’s appetite so we shared recipes for light and tasty finger food, jelly shots, fortified milkshakes and healthy fruit smoothies and encouraged residents to get involved in making these, as part of fun cookery activities. High fluid foods also count towards intake – think about watermelon, oranges and tomatoes.”
In Healthwatch Surrey’s assessment of QiCH one care home was quoted as saying: “We had four residents who were really underweight, but now these patients are a good weight solely due to the intervention of the team.”
Carol Kirby, manager at Cossins House care home in Cobham, said: “I would like to give a huge thank you to the Quality in Care Homes team in supporting us with hydration and nutrition. Nothing is too much trouble for them and the staff have thoroughly enjoyed the training.
“We now have better awareness of issues relating to dehydration resulting in improved accessibility to refreshments for care home residents – we always ensure glasses of water are within easy reach.”
Here’s a good fortified refresher for low appetites in hot weather:
Sparkling Citrus Fizz
Dairy free, No blender required
100ml orange juice
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon of honey or golden syrup
Whisk together all of the ingredients and serve. Try pineapple juice for a sharper taste.