Ensuring clients stay hydrated is one of the many important duties that personal support workers (PSWs) are responsible for. Hydration is especially vital when caring for seniors because many seniors are more susceptible to dehydration. For example, some may have decreased sensitivity to feeling thirsty, some may have reduced kidney function, and others may be taking medications that can cause dehydration.
Once you become a PSW, you will need to come up with ways of ensuring your senior clients get their necessary fluid intake. Here’s a look at what you should know about keeping senior clients hydrated after your PSW training.
Grads of PSW Training Programs Should Watch for Signs of Dehydration in Seniors
As a PSW, you will need to be able to recognize the signs of dehydration so that you can prevent it from happening in the first place. Mild dehydration in seniors can present as dry mouth, headaches, decreased urination, thirst, dry skin, sleepiness, irritability, or feeling unwell. In more serious cases, seniors may experience fainting, a quick—but weak—heartbeat, low blood pressure, severe cramping, lack of sweat or tears, and rapid breathing.
If dehydration becomes chronic or goes unaddressed, it can cause extremely serious health conditions, like kidney failure, seizures, swelling in the brain, and coma. Keeping your clients well hydrated when you work as a PSW should be high on your list of priorities, since the consequences of dehydration can be quite serious.
Use the Skills Gained in PSW Training to Help Senior Clients Stay Hydrated
In your PSW training program, you will learn about hydration, and you can put that knowledge to use towards helping your older clients stay hydrated. Getting your clients to drink more water is the simplest and most obvious way of ensuring they consume enough fluids. Some of your clients may have mobility issues which can prevent them from getting their own water. In such a case, you may want to ensure that they always have a glass of water within reach. Some seniors have a less acute sense of thirst, don’t rely on your clients to tell you when they’re thirsty. Instead, make sure they always have adequate access to fluids.
Think of Creative Ways of Ensuring Your Clients Drink Enough Fluids
Some seniors may refuse to drink water, such as if they are battling a serious medical condition like Alzheimer’s disease. In such a case, you will need to find ways of coaxing them into consuming more fluids. Not all fluids need to come from water. If your client doesn’t enjoy water itself, try alternative sources of fluids that they may prefer. Your client may be able to meet their daily fluid intake requirements by drinking fruit juices, teas, and sweetened beverages, for example. Many fruits and vegetables also have high water content.
During your PSW classes, you will learn about the various health conditions that your clients could have. While it’s important to ensure they are drinking enough fluids in any form they can, you will also want to be mindful of any health conditions that could make some foods and beverages unsuitable for your clients. For example, foods or liquids that have high sugar content may be inappropriate for somebody with diabetes, while drinks high in sodium should not be given to clients with high blood pressure.
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