DRIE - Dehydration Recognition In our Elders
Dehydration – what is the problem?
Dehydration, when we don’t drink enough for our needs, is bad for all of us. In older people severe dehydration increases confusion and falls, and makes sudden hospital admission more likely. We don’t have a good method of recognising dehydration early, before it becomes severe. Being able to identify dehydration early would allow us to take action to prevent severe dehydration, such as extra encouragement with drinking.
What will the research do?
This research aims to improve the health and wellbeing of older people by finding out how we can tell when they are drinking enough fluid, and understanding how to help them to drink more when they are not drinking enough.
The specific objectives are to:
Identify an easy method that can signal when someone needs to drink more. We are doing this by interviewing people living in care homes who are interested in taking part in this study. During the interview we assessed whether the care home resident was drinking enough by assessing their hydration status (measuring serum osmolality). We also carried out a set of tests commonly used by health care staff to assess for hydration status in older people, including squeezing the skin on the back of the hand (skin turgor), looking for tongue furrows, and checking urine colour. Using this information from 200 older people we identified a 3-stage method for identifying when older people are not drinking enough. This is the DRIE study.
Check this new 3-stage method. In the DRIE study we identified a 3-stage method for identifying when older people are not drinking quite enough. We have talked to our advisors living in care homes, and care home staff, to make sure that this method is acceptable and practical to use day to day in care homes. Now we are testing this new method to make sure it works really well at identifying dehydration before teaching it to others. This is the ongoing DRIE 2 study.
Find out more about the health effects of dehydration in people living in care homes. We are following up the people who took part in the DRIE study for two years to see what effect being dehydrated has on health, wellbeing and functional status.
Find out how we can help people living in care homes to drink more fluid. Drinking more prevents dehydration and its consequences. We are finding out how to help older people drink well by systematically finding and reviewing all the research carried out on how to help people in care homes. This is our systematic review on drinking.
Talking to people living in care homes, their families, friends and care staff about drinking. We want to understand what helps people living in care homes to drink more fluid and why some people living in care homes may not drink enough to remain healthy. We are inviting people to take part in a focus group (a focussed discussion) to talk about these issues. This is the Thinking about Drinking study.
Training for care home staff. Care home staff in our participating care homes will be offered training in how to recognise the early stages of dehydration, and how to help older people to drink well.
Who is funding the research?
This website is reporting on independent research arising from a Career Development Fellowship to Lee Hooper (NIHR-CDF-2011-04-025) and PhD work by Diane Bunn. Both are supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed in this website and related publications are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health.