Dehydration is a problem that elderly persons are more likely to experience because of the physiological changes that come with aging. The situation is further complicated by a variety of ailments and growing physical or mental fragility.
Our body temperature is regulated, nutrients are delivered to our cells, and our organs remain healthy when we consume the recommended amount of water. It is essential to our emotions and cognitive function as well. As a result, family members and caregivers need to be knowledgeable about the common risk factors, the effects, and how to spot the signs of dehydration.
Your body becomes dehydrated when it loses more fluids than it is consuming. Water is essential to several bodily functions, such as temperature regulation, waste removal, and joint lubrication.
As you age, it’s especially crucial to stay hydrated. A senior who is dehydrated may be more vulnerable to problems like:
- Elevated electrolytes
- kidney issues
- decline in balance
- seniors and dehydration
Dehydration is especially dangerous for older people for a number of reasons:
Risk factors for dehydration in older elderly
A decrease in the volume of bodily fluid. The amount of fluid in our bodies starts to diminish as we become older. This indicates that as you age, your body has fewer water reserves available for use.
Reduced responsiveness to thirst. Your body uses the sensation of thirst to alert you to the need for water. However, older folks might not be aware that they need to drink because their thirst response weakens with age.
Decreased kidney performance Age-related changes in renal function could result in greater water loss through urine.
Medications and medical disorders. Some senior citizens use drugs or have underlying medical issues. These ailments or medications may occasionally cause an increase in the amount of water lost through urine.
When to seek treatment for dehydration
You could think that dehydration is not a huge matter because you can just drink more water to solve the issue. It’s harder with elders. Since many seniors have trouble consuming large amounts of liquid, it’s crucial for them to maintain their hydration levels throughout each and every day. It may be time to seek dehydration therapy if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms of dehydration in an elderly loved one:
- nausea or vertigo
- reduced blood pressure
- mouth ache
- a lack of ability to cry or sweat
- holding on to the limbs
- Urine is rich, dark yellow.
- quick heartbeat
- difficulty urinating
- muscle tremor
How to keep the elderly from being dehydrated
Dehydration can generally be avoided. You and your older loved one can take a variety of actions to prevent dehydration, including:
Hydration Tips: Keep beverages nearby
To encourage tiny, frequent sips, water, and other beverages should be available all day long, not only during mealtimes. Keep beverages nearby, especially for elderly people who have mobility concerns. Make sure their caregivers are doing similarly if your loved one is residing in an assisted living home.
Hydration Tips: Think about the surroundings
After your loved one has been outside, make careful to encourage rehydration. Sweating in hot weather can lead to water loss, and the dry winter air can make dehydration more likely.
Hydration Tips: Discuss maintaining hydration
Teach seniors the value of staying hydrated because they may not be aware that they are losing their thirst sensation. Provide lots of alternative delightful, hydrating beverages, such as Gatorade or fruit juice, if your older loved one dislikes the taste of water.
Hydration Tips: Daily weigh yourself
It can be a symptom of dehydration if your loved one has lost a pound or two in a day. Make sure your elderly loved one is being daily weighed by their caregivers if they reside in an assisted living facility.
Hydration Tips: Stock up on foods high in water
Foods high in water content are your new best friends if an older loved one struggles to stay hydrated. Offer yogurt with fruits like cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon for breakfast. Offer a salad with sliced oranges or peaches for lunch. Serve soups with a clear broth base for dinner. And at every meal, use skims milk instead of full milk or provide coconut water to go with the meal.
Hydration Tips: Limit your consumption of diuretics
Caffeine and alcohol can exacerbate dehydration, so try to persuade your older loved one to limit their intake to one of each day.
What happens if dehydration in the elderly is not addressed?
A senior can anticipate a full recovery from dehydration if they receive prompt and efficient treatment from a trained medical expert. Dehydration, however, can cause a number of medical difficulties, including renal failure, urinary tract problems, kidney stones, and more if left untreated. Seniors who are dehydrated are also susceptible to heat harm.
Seniors who spend too much time outdoors perspiring run the danger of developing deadly heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Seizures are another dehydration problem that can affect senior citizens. Dehydration can result in an electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to seizures because electrolytes are crucial for transmitting electrical signals from our cells to one another.
Finally, dehydration can cause hypovolemic shock, commonly referred to as low blood volume shock, in seniors. It can be fatal when elders have a reduction in blood pressure and body oxygen levels as a result of dehydration.
The following actions can be taken by a live-in caregiver for an elderly person to assist in preventing dehydration:
- Remind them to drink water frequently throughout the day, particularly before and after meals and physical activity.
- Keep water in areas that are convenient for accessing it.
- If they are worried about not making it to the toilet in time after consuming fluids, make it easy for them to visit the restroom.