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man filling up glass of water

Hydration essentials

Many people do not drink enough and this is particularly true of people who are unwell. Ask yourself: can the person see, reach for, lift and hold a drink? If the answer to this is no, then they need your help to stay hydrated.

It is important to monitor regularly for signs of dehydration.

Signs and effects of dehydration may include:

  • thirst
  • feeling dizzy/light headed
  • sleepiness/tiredness
  • dry, sticky mouth
  • headache
  • passing small amounts of dark, concentrated urine
  • low blood pressure/hypotension
  • rapid pulse/tachycardia 

Monitoring hydration:

  • recording input / output where appropriate
  • weighing
  • blood testing
  • physical assessment
  • ask the person if they are thirsty
  • oral mucosa
  • blood pressure monitoring

Dehydration can lead to:

  • constipation
  • infections
  • delayed healing
  • delirium
  • falls
  • acute kidney injury
  • death

Encouraging hydration

  • The suggested amount of fluid is 2.5 litres a day unless there are clinical considerations
  • Encourage people to drink small amounts throughout the day and more at meal times or with medication
  • Offer a choice of appropriate drinks
  • Ensure that clean, fresh water is accessible
  • Where appropriate, encourage family members and carers to assist the person to drink
  • Ensure that appropriate aids are available to encourage the person to drink


Page last updated - 29/06/2023