Many people don’t realize what a real risk dehydration can be for older adults. Even mild dehydration can result in confused thinking, fatigue, weakness, and decreased coordination — all of which, in turn, contribute to a high risk of falling.
Dehydration weakens the body’s immune system, resulting in a higher risk of illness and a lowered ability to heal or handle health problems of any kind. Moderate to severe dehydration can damage muscles, kidneys and even become a life-threatening emergency.
Dehydration is widespread in adults over 65. Not only does the risk of dehydration increase with age, but the risk of its serious consequences does also. It is important to be aware of the risk factors, recognize the signs, and above all, take measures to prevent dehydration to the extent possible.
Risk Factors for Dehydration in Seniors
Seniors are at increased risk for dehydration for a number of reasons. First, as people age, thirst signals tend to decrease. Seniors simply don’t feel thirsty most of the time. By the time they do, most are already significantly dehydrated. Many seniors don’t realize that thirst sensation is not a good indicator of their body’s true fluid needs.
Other risk factors of dehydration can include:
- Urinary incontinence can cause seniors to cut down on fluids in fear of having an accident.
- Poor memory can affect a senior’s ability to remember to drink.
- Uncontrolled diabetes can cause increased urination.
- Common medications contribute to dehydration. Examples include many blood pressure meds, antihistamines, and laxatives, as well as medications for heart failure or swollen legs.
- Vomiting or diarrhea can quickly dehydrate a body.
Signs of Dehydration
Signs of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, confusion, and muscle cramping. Frequent urination, especially if the urine is darker than a pale yellow, can also be a warning sign.
It’s important for seniors to drink fluids proactively, rather than waiting for thirst to remind them. Eating foods with lots of fluid content, like soup or melon can be helpful. Caffeine and alcohol can cause an increase in urination, so cutting them down or out can be a good idea.
Seniors should speak to a doctor or pharmacist about all prescriptions and over the counter medications, so they understand which may contribute to a risk of dehydration.
Senior Care can Help
Senior care can help older adults prevent dehydration in a number of ways. Senior care is designed to allow each individual to select and customize services from their robust menu of options, so everyone’s support plan looks different. Common ways that senior care helps with hydration include:
- Transportation or shopping support, to ensure availability of a selection of enticing drinks, fresh fruits, and moisture-rich foods.
- Meal preparation, to offer tasty, low sodium home-cooked options.
- Meal, snack, or drink reminders, to ensure skipped meals don’t contribute to a reduced fluid intake. Food is a major source of hydration for many seniors.
- Drink preparation, such as mixing up milkshakes or making fruit infusions for the senior to sip.
- Companionship. Many seniors appreciate a companion, and taking tea together or sharing a couple of sodas can be a natural and enjoyable way to increase fluids ‒ and meaningful social interaction.
Talk to the senior care agency about how they can help support your senior’s hydration needs, and prevent the next crisis before it ever occurs.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Elder Care in Broomall PA, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care.
Call today: (484) 206-4544