01 Apr 2021

What should older people drink? 

Older adults can be predisposed to dehydration particularly if dependent on others for their care needs. This could be for numerous reasons.

Recommendation 61-62 from the 2018 ESPEN guideline on clinical nutrition and hydration in geriatrics suggests some myth busting changes to hydration recommendations for older people. The minimum daily fluid recommendations are 1600mls for women and 2000mls for men, unless there is a clinical condition that requires a different approach.

Plain water is not the only way to hydate our bodies as almost all drinks will count towards meeting fluid needs. If medically appropriate and drunk responsibly within recommended guidelines, beer and lager can also form a part of our daily fluid intake and evidence suggests alcoholic beverages, up to 4% volume, and caffeine containing drinks such as coffee do not cause dehydration. It is important to consider individual preferences as well as the nutritional and fluid content of the drinks. Nutrient dense, nourishing drinks may have specific benefit for people at risk of malnutrition.

Hydrating Drinks

  • Water
  • Sparkling Water
  • Flavoured Water
  • Hot or Cold Tea
  • Coffee
  • Milk and milky drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Soups
  • Sports or soft drinks
  • Smoothies
  • Alcoholic beverages up to 4% vol.

The impact of coffee and alcohol

In free-living older adults, coffee and alcoholic drinks each make up around 10% of fluid intake. 20% of care home residents reported that their favourite drink was coffee and 50% drank coffee at some point each day!