Hydration (drinking enough)
Adults (regardless of age or size) need at least 1.5 litres of fluid (water) per day, to function properly. This is the same as around 6 to 8 cups or glasses, or two and a half pints.
You can survive up to 50 days without food, but only a few days without water!
Older people should drink little, but often
Most of the body's water is stored in muscle. But as we get older, we lose muscle mass (the amount of muscle we have).
Less muscle mass = less water storage = greater risk of dehydration.
So, for older people, little but often is best (rather than a few larger drinks throughout the day).
Keep things interesting by trying different types of drink. Vary between hot and cold drinks.
Try new flavours. Add soda water to make drinks bubbly.
If you’re caring for someone who struggles to drink a lot, offer foods with a high water content, such as:
- ice lollies
- fruit like melon
Make drinking easy
Make sure cups and glasses are easy to use. Two handled mugs, plastic tumblers (which are lighter), or even a straw may help. One-cup kettles and kettle tippers are also available, to help people pour their own drinks.
Take a look at our ‘interactive house’ to find out about the range of equipment that’s available.
Commonly asked questions Back to top
Should I wait until I’m thirsty to have a drink?
No. Once you’re thirsty, you’re already mildly dehydrated. Older people particularly should not rely on thirst as a signal of when and how much to drink. This is because when we age our sense of thirst becomes less sensitive and less accurate.
Should I drink less if I'm worried about incontinence or going to the toilet in the night?
No. Limiting the amount you drink could make incontinence worse, as it reduces your bladder’s capacity.
Try increasing fluid intake during the day, if you’re worried about needing the toilet at night.
Can trips and falls be a sign of dehydration?
Yes. Lack of balance and co-ordination can be signs of severe dehydration, which could potentially cause a trip or fall.
Does the colour of my wee show how hydrated I am?
Yes. Your wee should be a pale, clear colour. Dark yellow wee means that you are dehydrated, so drink more to rehydrate.