When caring for a loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, there are many aspects of their overall health that must be closely monitored. Seeing to it that an elderly person is adequately hydrated is one of the top priorities.
For family members caring for a senior at home, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize signs of dehydration. Let’s take a look at the reasons why this happens in older people, the symptoms to watch for, and what can be done to resolve the issue.
Symptoms of Dehydration
DECREASES IN OVERALL BODY FLUID
As people get older, the total amount of fluids in their bodies tends to decrease over time. Because there are fewer water reserves in the system to call upon, it is even more critical for seniors to ensure that they are getting enough hydration on a daily basis.
MIGHT NOT DETECT THIRST
Everyone has experienced the sensation of thirst, as this is the body’s way of letting you know that it’s time to drink something. However, this natural urge tends to diminish with age, so older people may not know that their hydration level is decreasing.
As kidney function declines as we get older, the body does not hold has much water as it used to and much of it can be lost through the urination process.
EFFECTS OF MEDICATION
Many types of medication that seniors take such as diuretics can cause an increase in urination, often leading to dehydration.
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Causes of Dehydration in Elderly People
Here are some typical reasons why seniors can become dehydrated.
Medical conditions that cause vomiting, fever or diarrhea can often cause a loss of critical body fluids.
Being exposed to hot and humid weather can cause a significant amount of fluid loss through sweating.
Seniors who have difficulty walking or have other types of mobility issues often cannot get water on their own and must rely on others to help them.
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION IN SENIORS
It is very important that both family members and caregivers of seniors be aware of what to look out for as it relates to signs of dehydration. Here are some typical symptoms that older people will exhibit.
One of the first places to check for dehydration is in the mouth and tongue, as saliva is not able to be adequately produced.
A sudden loss or diminished energy is an obvious sign that the body is lacking an adequate level of hydration.
This condition presents itself by the delicate skin under the eyes becoming hallow, sullen or dark.
Urine that has a dark yellow tint is a telltale sign that the body is lacking the proper amount of water.
Sudden and somewhat painful cramps in the arms, legs, or feet can be a clear indication of dehydration.
Dehydration affects brain function, which can cause balance issues in older people.
Of course, preventing dehydration in seniors is the best strategy. Encourage the older people in your life to drink plenty of water, juice, broth, or other fluids. If you do encounter symptoms of dehydration in an older person, start by giving them water to drink and continue the process for several hours.
It’s also a good idea to contact the senior’s medical provider for additional information.
In some cases of severe dehydration, water alone may not be enough. Beverages that contain electrolytes may be needed such as Gatorade or other sports drinks. If dehydration is severe, hospitalization might be needed with electrolytes given intravenously.
Keeping the seniors in your life well hydrated is one of the easiest ways to help them feel good and live a better life.
Should you find that dehydration or other critical health related issues are becoming increasingly more difficult to monitor or manage, the highly compassionate professionals at Frontier are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how to keep your loved one as healthy as possible.