Dehydration is a serious matter and more so when it comes to our seniors. This is why being able to detect the signs and ensuring that they remain hydrated is so important.
Living in warm, humid areas can result in more fluids loss through perspiration. Weather is not the only thing that leads to fluid loss, but also chronic and over the counter medication.
Why staying hydrated is important
The body is made up of 60% water, and it needs H2O for cell and tissue repair and generation. Water helps with lubrication and the transportation of nutrients.
Another reason water is essential to the body because it helps with digestion and bowel movement. Sometimes prescription medication can lead to constipation, and this can occur in elderly people too. Water helps to keep things “regular.”
Water controls the body’s temperature and may also improve brain function and memory. Drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet along with exercises are all important aspects promoting healthy living for young and old people.
What causes dehydration in seniors?
Dehydration can occur for many reasons including:
- Medications (prescribed and OTC)
- Exposure to heat (indoors and outdoors)
- Health conditions
What are the signs of dehydration and can you prevent it in elderly people?
Dehydration can lead to low electrolytes. Electrolytes play an important role when it comes to body function. It supports cells, fluids inside and outside the cells, the nerves, and muscle function.
Dehydration in seniors can occur mildly or severely. Some of the mild symptoms include muscle cramps in limbs, headaches, dry mouth, fatigue, irritability, and sleeplessness.
When the symptoms are more severe, it can lead to low blood pressure, a weak but fast heart-rate, dry or sunken-looking eyes. Sometimes dehydration can also lead to rapid breathing.
How to avoid dehydration in seniors
What makes it hard to detect dehydration is due to the fact that seniors exhibit less sensitivity to thirst. It would seem as though the “thirst senses” are less responsive as we age. Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to avoid dehydration.
If you and your senior loved one live in a humid region then monitoring their hydration daily is important.
Hydrate throughout the day
- Make sure that when you are going out with your loved one that you carry water with you. If the weather is hot, refrigerate, or freeze the water the night before, and then it will remain cold and refreshing later on.
- Drink water before going for a walk (for exercise)
- Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages (caffeine is dehydrating by nature)
- Drink teas (rooibos) since it doesn’t have any caffeine as black teas often do
If your elderly parents don’t enjoy regular water, then you can add flavour with cucumber, melons, mint leaves or lemon slices in. Low sodium broth is also a good option for a flavoured warm beverage.
If you are spending time with them, you can monitor how much water they’re having and try to remind them to keep hydrated.
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