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Background: Water-loss dehydration in older people is associated with increased mortality and disability. We aimed to assess the prevalence of dehydration in older people living in UK long-term care, and associated cognitive, functional and health characteristics.  Methods: The Dehydration Recognition In our Elders (DRIE) cohort study included people ≥65 years living in long-term care without heart or renal failure. In a cross-sectional baseline analysis we assessed serum osmolality, previously suggested dehydration risk factors, general health, markers of continence, cognitive and functional health, nutrition status and medications. Univariate linear regression was used to assess relationships between participant characteristics and serum osmolality, then associated characteristics entered into stepwise backwards multivariate linear regression.   Results: DRIE included 188 residents (mean age 86 years, 66% women) of whom 20% were dehydrated (serum osmolality >300mOsm/kg). Linear and logistic regression suggested that renal, cognitive and diabetic status were consistently associated with serum osmolality and odds of dehydration, while potassium-sparing diuretics, sex, number of recent health contacts, and bladder incontinence were sometimes associated. Thirst was not associated with hydration status.  Conclusions: DRIE found high prevalence of dehydration in older people living in UK long-term care, reinforcing the proposed association between cognitive and renal function and hydration. Dehydration is associated with increased mortality and disability in older people, but trials to assess effects of interventions to support healthy fluid intakes in older people living in residential care are needed to enable us to formally assess causal direction and any health benefits of increasing fluid intakes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1341-1347
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences
Issue number10
Early online date9 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Dehy
  • Aged
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • dementia
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • glomerular filtration rate
  • Residential Facilities
  • Risk Factors
  • Long-Term Care

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