Author: Anna Stenning
The role of the office water cooler has changed over the years, making the transition from keeping thirst at bay for employees in offices to their installation in schools, factories, residential homes etc.
Hydration is important for all people whether working, playing sport, at home, socialising or simply going about a busy day. However, in one section of society, hydration is particularly important. The elderly population are most at risk, both physically and mentally from dehydration. Yet it is only in recent years that its physiological and cognitive effects have been understood.
Much research has been undertaken to understand the connection between health and ageing. It is true that to be healthy and to function correctly, the human body requires a combination of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, proteins and water. The most essential of these being fluid as digestion, body temperature regulation, and the smooth movement of joints and the elimination of waste products all require the body to be properly hydrated.
The average middle-aged person, dehydration by 2% can cause impaired physical and mental abilities. For the elderly however, dehydration takes on a more severe form as their bodies are slower to heal and bodily functions slow down. Stressful situations and temperature fluctuations are responsible for rapid dehydration and this can lead to perceived illness. Speech difficulties and visual impairment are also factors associated with dehydration.
Studies show that many sick, elderly people admitted to hospitals or seemingly suffering from the onset of dementia are found to be severely dehydrated. Dehydration is very common among this group of people. With age, the thirst sensation slows down, the metabolic rate decreases, and various systems become more sluggish and less efficient. Therefore, unrecognized and untreated dehydration in older people, due to the decreasing sensation of thirst, complicates chronic medical problems and increases the likelihood of death.
Fear of incontinence can stop them from drinking fluids as they should but the resulting dehydration can lead to more severe illness in the form of kidney failure. Inadequate hydration in nursing and care homes is a pressing problem and can result in unnecessary illness although this can be addressed by ensuring adequate training of staff and constant availability of fresh drinking water. In the workplace, water is readily available due to common positioning of office water coolers but accessibility of water to the ageing population is fraught with complications.
It is thought that people between the ages of 85 and 99 are most likely to be admitted to hospital with dehydration related illnesses. Reasons for their dehydration could be mobility where they are unable to get their own water, pharmaceutical where the medication has a diuretic effect, physical or mental impairment.
These issues can be assessed and addressed by the caring authority to ensure adequate administration of fluid to those unable to hydrate themselves. Not treating dehydration or not recognizing it can result in unnecessary illness and in some cases, physical decline until death. Treating dehydration can result in rapid recovery.
These days, as more knowledge is gained and the needs of the elderly are considered, more care homes, nursing and residential homes are installing office water coolers, which are no longer exclusively the domain of the workforce.
About the Author:
Anna Stenning regularly drinks from the office water coolers at her work place, knowing that it helps with her ability to work more efficiently. For more on coolers and filters visit http://www.pure-eau.co.uk/