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UEA research project aims to make drinking fun for older people

PUBLISHED: 17:08 30 November 2017

Make Drinking Fun launch event. Picture: David Hannant

Make Drinking Fun launch event. Picture: David Hannant

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A new scheme to help encourage elderly people to stay hydrated has been met with thumbs up and cups of tea raised in thanks. Residents at Ealing House care home in Martham have become pilots of a project launched by the University of East Anglia with the objective of eliminating dehydration amongst the elderly.

Make Drinking Fun launch, UEA researcher Florence Jimoh, Ealing House activities co-ordinator Elaine Southern and project leader Lee Hooper. Picture: David HannantMake Drinking Fun launch, UEA researcher Florence Jimoh, Ealing House activities co-ordinator Elaine Southern and project leader Lee Hooper. Picture: David Hannant

The project - Making Drinking Fun - is taking a proactive approach to older people failing to take in enough fluids, by attempting to make drinking a more sociable activity.

Working with residents and staff at the care home near Great Yarmouth, researchers have devised an activities toolkit, providing residential homes with a variety of ways to make the people in their care drink enough.

Among these, tea tasting, lemonade making and cooking activities, all designed to combat dehydration.

Florence Jimoh, UEA researcher said: “The ageing process makes it increasingly difficult to detect signs of dehydration in older people - as lots of the tell tale signs do not show up quite so well, such as wrinkly skin and urine colour.

Make Drinking Fun launch event. Picture: Ealing House care homeMake Drinking Fun launch event. Picture: Ealing House care home

“Our research has shown the most efficient way to tell is with blood tests, but regularly doing this is not ideal, so we decided the best approach is prevention.”

The activities have all been designed with the objective of making drinking a more sociable thing for people in residential homes, with the toolkit including more than 40 different ideas.

Lee Hooper, who led the research, added: “We all go through life with drinking being a very social activity - if we have visitors to our homes one of the first things we do is pop the kettle on and we generally enjoy drinking with other people.

“These activities allow care homes to encourage residents to drink, rather than simply telling them when they have to.”
Elaine Southern, activities co-ordinator at Ealing House worked with Dr Hooper and Dr Jimoh to allow residents to test out a first activity - tea tasting.

She said: “The activities are great as they take pressure off of the residents to drink - making it fun for them rather than an instruction they have to follow.”

The activities were designed following research which included interviews with residents and staff, in which they emphasised how important the social aspect was, as well as knowing how much they should be taking in.

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