Senior Health and Wellbeing | April 30, 2021
Dehydration and Seniors | Seniors are at a higher risk of dehydration than any other age group. With age, physiological changes happen in the body that increase the risk of becoming dehydrated. For example, many seniors lose their sense of thirst, which is why they do not drink enough fluids. Also, as older adults engage in fewer physical activities and tend to eat fewer calories, they do not get fluids from solid foods, like fruits or veggies.
Seniors can also develop dehydration as a result of medications, stress, health problems, and the weather. Because older adults are unable to regulate body temperatures as well as younger adults, they are more affected by changes in temperatures. Plus, seniors perspire less, which makes it difficult for them to stay cool while also making them more susceptible to dehydration. This is also why older adults are more prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, two very serious conditions that are closely related to dehydration.
Since dehydration can in severe cases lead to death, it is important to know the most common signs and symptoms. Dehydration is often manifested with fatigue, lethargy, forgetfulness, muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness, confusion, rapid breathing, and an increased heart rate. But there are also some less common symptoms to be on the lookout for, such as loss of fluids through vomiting, sunken eyes, dry/sticky mucous membranes in the mouth, decreased tears, and decreased urine output.
If your loved one has any of these symptoms and if taking in fluids does not help, go to the emergency room or contact your doctor immediately.
To prevent dehydration in seniors, it is important to monitor their fluid intake and ensure they are taking at least 64 ounces of fluids on a daily basis. Older adults should take in fluids through water and non-caffeinated drinks (caffeinated drinks and alcohol can lead to dehydration), as well as through fruits and veggies like melons, berries, apples, peaches, cucumbers, and cauliflower. If your loved one is unable to take in plenty of fluids due to the taste of water, you can mix water with powdered drink mixes (but do not add any sugar).
Following these simple tips should prevent dehydration in seniors. But be especially careful during warm months and make sure your loved one always has a bottle of water nearby.
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