We've written previously about the importance of children keeping hydrated so now we're going to concentrate on the dangers of dehydration and the elderly. As we get older our thirst mechanism just doesn_t kick in as it should meaning that elderly people, especially those with dementia, can easily get dehydrated and in turn become even more confused. In addition to being uncomfortable dehydrated can be damaging to health, especially for those taking medication for with medical conditions. Being dehydrated can also affect kidney function and be harmful to the liver, joints and muscles; and it can also cause cholesterol problems, headaches, reduced blood pressure, fatigue and constipation. Ensuring the elderly stay hydrated leads to fewer urinary tract infections, better kidney health, less danger of dizziness and falls, and greater concentration and cognitive ability. Research about bottled water has found that as we age, we drink less water; and while drinking water is a healthy option, fluids from other sources also count. Tea, milky beverages and other cold drinks or foods, such as soup and salad with a high water content, all make a useful contribution to staying hydrated. The key thing is that fluid intake of whatever for elderly people is good, but try to avoid an intake of excess sugar as this can lead to diabetes. Drinking water needs to be accessible as a way of encouraging the elderly (or indeed anyone) to drink. In a hospital or nursing home environment this could mean installing a water cooler, and one with disposable cups avoids washing jugs and glasses. Plus older people often need to sip fluids slowly throughout the day as drinking, say, an entire 250ml glass in one go can be challenging. Common signs of dehydration are a decreased ability to carry out physical tasks, loss of appetite, reduction in urinary output, sleepiness, headaches, impatience and lack of concentration. With thanks to the British Water Cooler Association.