Monitoring dehydration in older people


As people grow older, they will sometimes have trouble regulating their body temperatures and can be more prone to dangerous conditions such as dehydration. It is important to be able to recognise the signs of dehydration in someone you’re caring for throughout the year, but especially during the summer months, or whenever we experience hotter, more extreme temperatures.


For anyone who may be caring for a loved one at home, there are three main steps in monitoring dehydration in older people.


Step 1 – Physical signs

When caring for an older relative or friend at home, it is important to look out for certain physical signs of dehydration. These include but are not limited to:

  • Lack of sweat
  • No tears
  • Less urine
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Muscle cramps

Step 2 – Mental and emotional signs

In addition to physical signs, there may be indicators of dehydration in people’s mental and emotional state such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Speech and words that do not make sense
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleepiness

Step 3 – Serious signs

If you detect any of the following signs in someone you are caring for, these are serious and you should seek help from a doctor or healthcare professional straight away:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Weak but rapid pulse
  • Fainting
  • Severe headache



If you are caring for an older relative or friend at home, there are a number of ways that you can help keep them hydrated during the hotter months.

  • Have drinks readily available
  • Offer drinks at regular intervals and encourage visitors to do the same
  • Be inventive in how else you can offer fluids – for example ice lollies, soups and smoothies
  • Monitor those at the highest risk of dehydration and, if showing signs, act immediately
  • Use activity sessions to promote fluid intake such as making non-alcoholic mocktails


Draycott Nursing & Care can offer support for those caring for older family or friends at home. For further information, please make an enquiry or call us on +44 (0)20 7351 7171

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