Don't Let Dehydration Take a Toll on Your Senior Loved Ones
Your loved ones may be more at risk for dehydration than you realize. While the signs of it are easy to notice in adults and children, they can be harder to spot in seniors. However, even mild dehydration can pose serious health risks to senior loved ones, so it's important to keep an eye out for these common warning signs that may be taking their toll on them
What Is Dehydration?
When you don't get enough fluids, your body loses its ability to maintain normal blood pressure and fluid levels. When these imbalances occur, your kidneys fail to process toxins properly. This can have detrimental effects on our health, including kidney disease and high blood pressure. The human body needs to stay hydrated in order to function properly; we're made up of 50-70% water after all! As we age, our need for water becomes even more important as dehydration can put older adults at risk for health problems like Alzheimer's disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and more.
Symptoms of Dehydration in Seniors
Many people believe that because older adults don't sweat much, they can't be dehydrated, but that isn't necessarily true. Older adults are often times less likely to report symptoms of dehydration such as dry mouth, fatigue, disorientation, and irritability. But dehydration can lead to dizziness, fainting, and falls, which are especially dangerous for seniors because they may be vulnerable due to age or underlying health conditions. If your elderly loved one is prone to dehydration it is important to remain aware of their daily habits.
Why Seniors are at Higher Risk of Dehydration
Most elderly suffer from chronic ailments, which require them to be on multiple medications. These drugs have many side effects such as increased thirst and dry mouth. The combination of these factors puts them at risk of dehydration. In addition, seniors tend to lose more water through their skin due to age-related changes in metabolism. Their kidneys may also not be as efficient at retaining fluid because of reduced function and therefore need more water intake compared to younger adults. They are also less likely to pay attention to thirst cues that usually compel people of all ages and health conditions to drink enough fluids. The elderly may forget or neglect to hydrate themselves because they fear the loss of bladder control, or they forget why they should drink water in excess (prevent dehydration).
Preventing Dehydration in the Elderly
Although older adults tend to consume less water than their younger counterparts, it's not always because they're thirsty. As we age, our bodies require less liquid than when we were younger—and thirst isn't necessarily an accurate indicator of whether or not we need a drink. The best way to prevent dehydration in seniors is to limit beverages with sugar and salt (which cause your body to retain water) and ensure that those who don't seem thirsty actually get a drink. Additionally, if you have any reason to believe your loved one may be dehydrated (like dark yellow or orange urine), take them for medical attention immediately.
Older adults are particularly susceptible to dehydration because their bodies are less able to regulate fluid levels. In addition, seniors sometimes have trouble swallowing and may become confused when they're experiencing symptoms of dehydration. Understanding why it's crucial for older adults to drink water is just as important as understanding what will happen if they don't. Regularly remind your loved ones that it's important for them to drink plenty of water every day.
Contact us for more information and assistance. Senior Helper of Greater Knoxville and Madisonville cares for seniors in their homes and local facilities.