The number of people being admitted to hospital due to dehydration has more than doubled over the last year, according to figures published by the NHS.

Admissions to Britain's hospitals due to lack of water were up from 36 in 2005-06 to 74 this year, with the sharp increase giving some cause for concern. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that adults drink a minimum of 6-8 glasses of water a day (1.2 litres), and more if you exercise regularly.

What is consistent, however, is that the vast majority of those taken to hospital were 75 years old and over. Just fewer than 70 per cent of those admitted fall into this age bracket. According to Caredirections, an online resource for the rights and care of the elderly, dehydration is a huge problem for the older generation, with those over the age of 60 recommended 1.6 litres of water a day. Unfortunately, many older people do not drink anywhere near this amount.

It has been proven that the body's natural reaction to dehydration, thirst, is impaired in older people, with those suffering from Alzheimer's or victims of strokes particularly insensitive to the body's need for water.

June Crump, a local Age Concern officer in Medway, said that a reason that older people might be neglecting water is to avoid ‘inconvenient and frequent visits to the toilet. It is essential that these still-young women take care of themselves and drink the necessary fluids!'

Water is key in anyone's diet, as it helps to hydrate the body and brain.  Proven benefits of regularly drinking water include reducing the risk of kidney stones, coronary heart disease and blood clotting, as well as providing a significant increase in mental performance.

Dehydration has also been identified as a critical risk factor for falls in older people, and a large number of injuries that the elderly suffer could be avoided if they followed the recommended fluid intake.

According to the Disability Advice and Information Service, ‘revitalising, refreshing and calorie-free, water can make such an easy and valuable contribution to better health in older age.'

Dehydration levels double in the elderly