• Magda Dahdah

Dehydration in Seniors


Dehydration occurs when a person loses more water than they take in. Adequate fluid allows the body to regulate temperature through sweating, maintain blood pressure and eliminate bodily waste.



If severe enough, dehydration can lead to confusion, weakness, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bedsores in bed-ridden patients or sadly even death. Generally speaking, humans can’t survive more than four days without water.


Who's At Risk?


According to the Mayo Clinic, "as you age, your body's fluid reserve becomes smaller, your ability to conserve water is reduced and your thirst sense becomes less acute. These problems are compounded by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia, and by the use of certain medications. Older adults also may have mobility problems that limit their ability to obtain water for themselves."


Possible Causes


  • Medications

  • Decreased Thirst

  • Decreased Kidney Function

  • Illness (vomiting, diarrhea)

  • Excessive sweating

  • Fever

  • Increased urination


Signs & Symptoms of Dehydration


  • Confusion

  • Dizziness or headaches

  • Dry mouth

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Low blood pressure

  • Low urine output/Dark-coloured urine

  • Constipation


Prevention


We all know that when it comes to our health as we age, prevention is key. There are a number of ways to ensure your loved one, and you, are properly hydrated.

  1. Make sure to provide an adequate amount of fluids throughout the day. You may want to consult a physician to find out the proper amount for your loved one. Use a checklist to track fluid intake at each meal and during snacks.

  2. Eating healthy, water-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and soups at each meal and for snacks are vital for increasing the amount of water in the body.

  3. Check that urine color is light and output adequate (dark urine or infrequency of urination is a classic sign of dehydration).


Knowing the signs that your loved one may be suffering from dehydration, prepares us to take action to ensure their positive health and well-being. Taking small steps each day to increase fluid intake, monitoring their behaviour, and tracking their physical health can make a big difference in their quality of life.


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