Looking for Signs of Dehydration in the Elderly

Looking for Signs of Dehydration in the Elderly

Looking for the Signs of Dehydration in the Elderly

According to a recent study of over 15,000 Americans, up to 95 percent of senior citizens don’t drink enough fluids for healthy bodily function. Seniors are especially at risk for dehydration because as we age, the receptors in our bodies responsible for thirst regulation become defective. This means an elderly person may not feel thirsty or have the dry mouth sensation that reminds us to drink. Many common medications such as those used to treat high blood pressure or congestive heart failure are diuretics, which work by causing the body to expel fluids and salts. Often elderly people will simply choose not to drink fluids as a way to control incontinence or avoid the burden of having to get up to go to the bathroom. In summer months, even mild dehydration can turn dangerous quickly. Not drinking enough can lead to low blood pressure and dizziness, putting elderly people at risk for falling. Some of the warning signs for dehydration include:

  • Decreased urination
  • Dark or discolored urine - a properly hydrated person’s urine is clear
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Sudden confusion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of muscle control including difficulty walking
  • Dry skin and sunken eyes

Although it’s important to pay attention to the warning signs, a much better strategy for ensuring proper hydration is to stay ahead of it. Here are a few tips to keep yourself or a loved one hydrated and happy!

  • Drink a full glass of water with medication
  • Keep a full water bottle within reach at all times, especially for people with mobility issues
  • If plain water isn’t palatable, try water bottles with fruit diffusers to spice up the flavor. Herbal teas and natural juices are great options as well.
  • Eat foods with high water content like melon, soup, yogurt, or fresh vegetables
  • Avoid diuretics like coffee and alcohol
Timothy Schultz
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