No other beverage can compare to an icy cold glass of water after a long day in the heat unless you are an older adult—the ability to recognize thirst declines with age. Therefore, seniors may not notice that they need to rehydrate after just a few hours of gardening in the summer heat.
For the elderly, dehydration is a prevalent problem with potentially fatal outcomes. Early detection of dehydration signs is crucial. Without prompt diagnosis and treatment, dehydration may have devastating consequences on people of any age, especially the elderly.
What Are Common Signs of Elderly Dehydration?
As we become older, not only do we lose some of our sensitivity to thirst, but we also become more likely to misidentify the symptoms of dehydration as something else. It implies that the urge to drink alone is not a reliable indicator of when and how much older adults should hydrate themselves.
The ability of our body to detect temperature changes diminishes with age. We could be more susceptible to dehydration if we have certain disorders like diabetes or kidney problems.
Here are some common signs of dehydration in older adults:
1) Dizziness & Headaches
The human body can’t operate without water. As the body’s internal mechanisms that regulate bodily functions begin to fail due to dehydration, seniors experience symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and disorientation.
Seniors may even pass out from dehydration if it’s bad enough. Older adults are more prone to experience these signs and symptoms when they are physically active or when the temperature rises.
2) Decreased Urine Output
Dehydration may cause the inability to pee or discharge dark-colored urine in the elderly. Hydration is crucial in ensuring optimal renal function, especially for the elderly. One of the easiest ways seniors can maintain health and urinate is to drink the recommended daily water consumption.
3) A Sticky and Dry Mouth
Older adults will likely notice if their mouth feels dry and sticky, one of the most prevalent signs of dehydration. Although many factors result in dry mouths, like medication side effects, diseases, radiation therapy, and other factors, the leading cause is dehydration.
4) Occasional Spasms and Cramps in the Muscles
Some older adults who haven’t had enough to drink may develop mild to severe muscular cramps. Correct fluid balance in the body is essential for the continued health of the muscles. Seniors who don’t get enough fluids and electrolytes may have unpleasant cramps. Common concerns of muscle cramps may be due to dehydration.
5) Dry Skin
Older adults who get dehydrated may cease sweating and start to look dry and shriveled. It is because dehydration may cause the skin to become dry and brittle, and water is necessary to skin health. Dehydrated skin doesn’t recover from a pinch the way well-hydrated skin does.
Preventing Dehydration in Older Adults
Even slight dehydration may harm the health of an older adult who is already dealing with health difficulties like cardiac or renal problems. On the other hand, you may take measures to urge an older relative to drink enough water.
About 60% of the human body contains water, most of which can be found in muscle and other fatty tissues. Since they tend to have less lean tissue than younger individuals, the elderly are more likely to get dehydrated from factors like hot weather or fever. On average, a senior should drink about eight 5-ounce glasses of water each day.
To avoid dehydration, the elderly may take the following measures:
- Identify a drink they would appreciate. Occasionally, older adults do not enjoy the flavor of plain water; thus, they should select a beverage they prefer. Add flavor to your water by floating a piece of fresh fruit like a slice of lemon, cucumber, apple, or orange. Instead of water, you may try something like a low-sugar sports drink or a senior-friendly protein and nutritional smoothie. Caffeine may have a drying effect; thus, coffee and tea should not be included in the daily fluid intake.
- Refrain from coffee and alcohol. Some older adults enjoy alcohol and caffeine. However, when consumed in large amounts, it may cause urination to increase. Because it acts as a diuretic (dehydrates your blood, lowering the volume of fluid traveling through your circulatory system), alcohol causes you to urinate more often. Older adults should reduce caffeine and alcohol so that the body can hold on to the water it needs to function.
- Make sure to have enough to drink throughout the day. Seniors should sip fluids gradually throughout the day rather than guzzle them all at once. They should stay on track by making drinking part of their daily routine: take a glass of water when they wake up, at lunch and dinner, etc. Always have a water bottle to avoid dehydration and the accompanying mobility concerns. Reducing water consumption during the night might help ease worries about incontinence.
- Planning meals around foods that are high in water. Some foods, like soup, yogurt, gelatin, and fruits and vegetables, have a lot of water. These foods can help older people get enough water and meet their daily needs.
Dehydration among the elderly is a health risk since it may lead to other sicknesses and organ problems. Among the elderly, dehydration is related to increased mortality. Observe your loved one for signs and symptoms of dehydration and take the prevention steps outlined above.
If you feel that a loved one is suffering from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or dehydration, you must seek immediate medical attention.
If Your Loved One Has Trouble Keeping Hydrated, Consider In-Home Care Options
Dehydration is only one of the numerous health conditions seniors might have, and it’s one of many that can enhance the need for in-home caregiving services. In-home care requirements might vary widely from one older adult to the next.
Tita Homecare can tailor their care plans to match each client’s specific needs, so you can assure that they will be able to help your aging loved one. We can make a strategy to encourage elders to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough exercise, keeping positive relationships, and engaging in cognitively challenging hobbies. Contact us today so we can create a personalized plan for you or your loved one!
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