As we enter the summer months, it’s more important than ever to recognize and prevent the symptoms of dehydration, especially in seniors. Chronic senior dehydration may lead to health risks such as urinary tract infections, impaired cognition, dizziness, falls, and in extreme cases, organ failure. Help your loved ones stay hydrated and happy with this guide to recognizing and preventing dehydration.
What causes dehydration?
Dehydration in seniors can be caused by a multitude of reasons. As we age, our perceptions of thirst may decrease, causing us to drink less and lose more fluids throughout the day. Yet dehydration is more than just a lack of thirst. Certain medications can make seniors more susceptible to dehydration, and conditions such as decreased mobility, memory disorders, and incontinence can cause seniors to consume less fluid.
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
The symptoms of dehydration may often go undetected in seniors, but there are signs that caretakers should watch out for. Signs of mild dehydration include dry mouth, headaches, cramps, weakness, irritability, and inability to urinate or passing only a small amount of urine. Symptoms of severe dehydration include low blood pressure, severe muscle contractions and cramping, a rapid pulse, dry or sunken eyes, and faster breathing. If your loved one has any of these symptoms, they may be experiencing some degree of dehydration.
How can I prevent dehydration?
Stopping dehydration in its tracks is the key to preventing a more serious condition. If your loved one is experiencing one of the symptoms above, give them a sports drink with electrolytes to replenish their fluids and salt. Educate them on the importance of drinking water or other fluids all day long, not just at mealtimes. Experts suggest drinking about 64 ounces of fluid every day. Buying a portable water bottle is a good solution for seniors with limited mobility, so they can keep it in bed or carry it on the go. You can even add flavor to water by infusing it with fresh lemons or other fruit. Staying hydrated is vital to senior health, so encourage your loved one to drink up all summer long!