Dehydration can create health issues for people of all ages, but it can be especially serious for the elderly. And it can often be hard to detect, despite the fact that dehydration can have such a big impact on someone’s health.
Proper hydration allows people to regulate their temperature through sweating, eliminate bodily waste and maintain blood pressure. When people are dehydrated – or losing more water than they take in – they can become confused, weak and even develop tract infections or pneumonia.
In fact, dehydration and the delayed diagnosis of it has made it one of the 10 most frequent diagnoses for admitting people for Medicare hospitalizations, according to the Health Care Financing Administration.
The Causes of Dehydration
So let’s look at several of the causes for elderly dehydration:
Medications – Some medications taken by seniors are diuretics, while other cause patients to sweat. Both of these can be dehydrating.
Decreased kidney function – As people age, their bodies lose kidney function, which means they are less likely to conserve fluid.
Decreased thirst – The sense of thirst decreases as people age. Elderly individuals don’t think about drinking water or other fluids. Also, it’s harder for them to get up and get a drink when they are thirsty. Or, they don’t want to have to get up to go to the bathroom.
Key Indicators of Dehydration
Now that we’ve discussed some of the top causes, let’s look at some of the key indicators of dehydration.
These are signs that we monitor daily at Country Home Assisted Living in Parker. They include confusion, dizziness or headaches, difficulty walking, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, inability to sweat or produce tears, low urine output and constipation.
Since dehydration has such big consequences and is preventable, it’s something we take very seriously at Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colorado.
How You Can Help
Here are some tips that you can follow.
First, make sure your elderly loved one consumes an adequate amount of fluids during the day. Keep in mind that a person’s diet can provide hydration. Fruits (especially watermelon), vegetables and soups are mostly water-based, so count as part of the liquid intake.
Second, monitor body weight by weighing daily. If someone has lost two pounds or more from the day before, they are probably dehydrated, especially if they are suffering from headaches or are feeling thirsty.
Finally, check that the urine color is light and there is adequate output. Dark urine or infrequency of urination are a sign of dehydration.
You can help your elderly love ones by educating them about the importance of drinking enough fluids even if they are not thirsty. Put a water bottle next to their favorite chair or by the bed to make it easy for them to consume water.
At Country Home Assisted Living in Elbert County, we make sure that our residents stay hydrated by offering a variety of beverages and water-content foods as part of their daily diets. We also weigh are residents on a regular basis and continually assess their physical condition and mental state.
At Country Home Assisted Living, we understand the importance of looking out for key indicators of dehydration. We know that prevention is much easier than dealing with the issues that could potentially arise. We hope you take this issue as seriously as we do.