Dehydration: Why are elderly people still dying of thirst?

Dehydration: Why are elderly people still dying of thirst?

The journal, Nursing Times, has recently reported on the dangers to patients of dehydration and the subsequent cost to the NHS…

Hydration and healthIt quotes some shameful statistics in terms of cost – not least, the needless suffering of patients denied vital water for life.

According to the magazine:

  • Proper hydration alone could lead to savings of £0.95 billion.
  • Pressure ulcers (made far worse by dehydration) costs £1.4-2.1bn
  • Falls cost £15m – and falls are a well-known symptom of dehydration
  • Malnutrition costs £7.3bn
  • Urinary tract infections (very common amongst older people in hospital and in care homes) account for 798,000 bed days – and even back in the 1990s were thought to cost £124m
  • Constipation accounts for 135,273 bed days

It’s staggering that, in 2011, a mainstream journal still has to put out such an obvious message: that water is essential for life and health. And yet it’s a message that clearly needs to be heard, so full credit to Nursing Times for addressing it.

Many people in hospital, particularly elderly people, would become well – or at least a whole lot better – with two blindingly obvious things: water and nutrients.

Dehydration is never going to be ‘cured by drugs. It’s cured by water. And malnutrition is only ever reversed by nutrients. How long will it take for mainstream medical training to detach itself from its outdated drugs-based, side-effect-laden thinking and teach people the basics of health? Whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?

As well as the above costs, deydration also leads to mental confusion, weakness and frailty, poor mobility, infections, broken bones, a greater need for full-time care. And, of course, dehydration ultimately leads to death.

If the ‘health’ service needs to save money, then providing something as basic as water – and nourishing people back to health – is surely one of the easiest things to do.






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