Senior Care Issue: Staying Hydrated is Vital
Dehydration is a very real senior care issue. Aging makes people less aware of thirst and gradually lowers the body’s ability to regulate fluid balance. This is because there is a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat cells as we age over 60. This lose of water also lowers kidney function and can have drastic health consequences including reduced or loss of consciousness, rapid but weak pulse and low blood pressure. If elderly dehydration is a chronic problem, health complications are likely to become severe and even life-threatening.
It is easy to tell a loved one to drink more water but what if they have physical or mental health complications, as many seniors do. If an elderly person has a problem standing or walking or a fear of falling, it is unlikely they will get up to get a drink. On the other hand, if one has cognitive deficits such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, a person may be unable to remember to drink something, where to get a drink or even how. In these situations, I would recommend monitoring fluid intake to ensure dehydration does not occur.
Hydration Senior Care Tips…
- Anything that turns to a liquid at room temperature is a fluid! For those that have a hard time with water, this is a great tip!
- Give frequent reminders, “Drink some water”
- Fill a bottle with their favorite fluid and keep it close by.
- One sign of proper hydration is the color of the urine—it should be clear or a pale yellow.
- Check for a decrease in skin turgor-pull up the skin on the back of the hand for a few seconds; if it does not return to normal within a few seconds, the person is dehydrated.
Important signs of dehydration to look for:
- Confusion (can be extreme with seniors)
- Problems with walking or falling
- Dizziness or headaches
- Dry or sticky mouth and tongue
- Sunken eyes
- Inability to sweat or produce tears
- Rapid heart rate, low blood pressure or blood pressure drops when changing from lying to standing
- Constipation or decrease in urine output