People of all ages are at risk for dehydration year-round. While dehydration is often viewed as a greater risk during the summer months when high temperatures increase sweat production, the
truth is it is a danger even in winter, especially for older adults. Sometimes colder weather can mask the common signs of dehydration.
At Senior Health Care Solutions, our mission is to promote the health and wellness of seniors. We know the risks associated with dehydration, especially in older populations and those with underlying health problems, and we want to share our professional insight.
If you are a caregiver for a senior loved one, it is important to know the common signs of dehydration in the elderly to prevent adverse reactions. Keep reading to learn more about dehydration in the elderly and what to look out for.
Why Seniors are at Higher Risk for Dehydration
While everyone is at risk for dehydration, seniors are especially at risk. Dehydration in the elderly is a common problem because there are many causes, some of which are due to medication or side effects of illnesses.
The three main causes of dehydration in seniors are medications, lack of thirst, and kidney problems.
Top Causes of Dehydration in the Elderly
Seniors taking multiple medications may not know or remember all the potential side effects of each prescription. If you help manage your loved one’s medication, familiarize yourself with their side effects. If you suspect any medications are causing dehydration, speak to their doctor.
Another reason dehydration is common among the elderly is that as people age, they can lose their sense of thirst. While their bodies still require the same amount of hydration, they simply don’t feel thirsty as often, decreasing their urges to drink water. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive disorders can also make people forget to drink.
The third common reason seniors are at a higher risk for dehydration is kidney problems. As people age, their kidneys can stop effectively processing fluids. You may notice that your older loved one is taking more frequent trips to the bathroom. Excess fluid loss may require extra effort to maintain hydration.
Common Signs of Dehydration
Are you worried that your elderly loved one is at increased risk for dehydration or may already be dehydrated? Here are the common symptoms of dehydration in seniors:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Dry mouth
- Loose skin
- Infrequent urination
- Drop in blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle cramping
- Dry, flaky skin
- Low tear or sweat production
If you suspect your loved one is dehydrated, you may be able to help them by providing them fluids by mouth. It’s generally recommended to give them an electrolyte drink, but water and juice can help.
Depending on the severity of the dehydration and the health of the senior in question, medical care may be required. If you believe the dehydration is severe, such as when vomiting or diarrhea is present, your loved one will need immediate care. If a senior has existing cardiac or renal problems, even mild dehydration can significantly harm their health.
How to Prevent Dehydration in the Elderly
Because dehydration can land a senior in the hospital, prevention is key. Here are some ways you can help prevent your loved one from becoming dehydrated:
- Encourage them to drink throughout the day: seniors should consume smaller amounts of water throughout the day rather than a large intake of fluids at once.
- Offer foods naturally high in water: Some foods have a naturally high water content that will help seniors meet their daily water requirements without excessive drinking. Soup, yogurt, fresh fruit, and vegetables like watermelon and tomatoes have high water content.
- Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages: Coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated tea are considered diuretics and can lead to dehydration if consumed in large quantities.
- Limit salty foods: consuming lots of sodium can lead to more frequent urination, leading to dehydration.
- Find other beverages: drinking plain water can get boring, so find another drink they enjoy to make staying hydrated a tasty experience.
Trust Senior Health Care Solutions with Dehydration in the Elderly
We understand that dehydration is of great concern for seniors and can present real health consequences. Our skilled nurses provide long-term and short-term care for aging adults that require professional care.
To learn more about how we help maintain healthy living, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (570) 969-2188.