Dehydration is common in senior citizens for several reasons. Seniors may be unwilling to drink as much to avoid frequent bathroom breaks. They might not realize when they last had a glass of water. Some seniors have a hard time swallowing.
If a senior is not properly hydrated, it can lead to kidney issues, respiratory complaints, and UTIs. Weakness is also common. Most people associate dehydration as a lack of water in the body. There is another form of dehydration that occurs in senior citizens. Many people are unaware of it.
Hyponatremic Dehydration Explained
Hyponatremic dehydration occurs when salt levels in the body drop. Sodium is one of the electrolytes found in the body. Its key role is to manage fluids and help the muscles and nerves function correctly. When sodium levels are correct, it cues the body when it’s time to flush fluids from cells and out of the body through sweat or urine.
When sodium levels are too low, the signals get messed up. Instead of removing fluids, the body increases blood. Fluid can start building up. Over time, the excess fluid can lead to brain swelling. Left untreated, it can lead to seizures and eventually a coma. Early symptoms of low sodium levels include confusion and lethargy.
If a senior is taking diuretics, it can affect the sodium balance. Vomiting and diarrhea caused by medication side effects, viruses, or food poisoning can alter sodium levels. Drinking too much water can mess up sodium levels. Liver disease, kidney issues, underactive adrenal or thyroid glands, and heart failure may also affect sodium levels.
What Happens if Your Mom or Dad Has Hyponatremic Dehydration?
When your parent has hyponatremic dehydration, they’ll likely be hospitalized to get sodium levels balanced. It’s treated with intravenous fluids that contain sodium. It’s also important to find out why sodium levels were too low.
If your mom or dad is drinking too much water, close monitoring of their liquid intake is important. If it’s medications, they may need to be adjusted. Underlying diseases or health conditions must be diagnosed and treated.
Are your parents drinking enough water each day? Are they drinking too much? Make sure they are by having a caregiver monitor their meals and snacks. A half glass of water each hour or two can help prevent dehydration. Excessive thirst can be an indicator of diabetes. Call a senior care agency to learn more about this and other senior care services.