While most people think about dehydration on a hot and sunny day, few family caregivers think about it being a problem with their elderly loved one. Surprisingly, chronic dehydration is extremely common among seniors in the United States and it can lead to numerous health problems. When family caregivers learn more about dehydration in the elderly, they can take steps toward prevention.
Why is Dehydration in Seniors Common?
The causes of dehydration in seniors can vary depending on each person’s physical or mental condition. Aging adults develop a lower volume of water and fluids within their bodies, so they need constant replenishment. Also, there are many common medications that increase the risk of dehydration. Trouble with drinking and swallowing due to physical limitations can also be a barrier to getting enough water for elderly adults.
Seniors don’t feel thirst as acutely as younger adults, and some elderly people that are less mobile simply cannot get themselves drinks very easily. Some illnesses, like bladder infections or diarrhea, can also trigger dehydration in seniors. For seniors with declining cognitive abilities, they may simply not remember to drink often or they may refuse to drink for some reason. All these can combine to leave elderly adults in a dehydrated state and they won’t even know it.
Symptoms of Dehydration in Seniors
Family caregivers and elder care assistants should know the common symptoms and warning signs of dehydration in seniors. Many of the symptoms mimic other health issues, so elderly people need to be observed closely.
Common dehydration symptoms include:
- Dry skin
- Less urination output
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Lack of sweating and tears
- Sunken and dry eyes
- Low blood pressure
- Irritability and confusion
- Fast breathing
- Confusion and dizziness
In extreme cases, dehydration can lead to serious health issues like heat stroke, kidney problems, urinary tract infections, seizures and low blood volume. These effects are especially devastating to the elderly and can lead to death.
Preventing Dehydration in Seniors
-Dehydration can be a problem for seniors, but the good news is that it is entirely preventable. Aging adults should always drink during every meal, preferably water or a high-quality sports drink. Tea and coffee are also good ways to keep their bodies hydrated. Many family caregivers and elder care assistants make sure the elderly person has a full water bottle within reach throughout the day. They also encourage them to take sips to stay hydrated.
-All family caregivers need to do is to keep their eyes open for signs of dehydration so they can take action. In the meantime, they can do their best to make sure their aging loved one has fresh water constantly available and that they drink it. With these simple steps, family caregivers can go a long way toward preventing dehydration in their elderly relative.
If you or an aging loved one is considering Home Health Care in Manteca, CA, or the surrounding areas please contact the caring staff at ApexCare®. Proudly Serving Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, Solano, San Joaquin & Stanislaus counties. Call Today 877-916-9111