Dehydration in Seniors
Seniors may be at a higher risk of dehydration due to decreased sense of thirst, which is a common early warning sign for mild dehydration. Seniors should also be aware that fear of being incontinent, swallowing difficulties and gastrointestinal disorders contribute to their risk of becoming dehydrated. An increased risk of infections, pressure sores, falls, and broken bones can be attributed to lack of proper hydration.
Total body water decreases with age. Adults over 60 have less water to lose, creating the risk of dehydrating more quickly than when they were younger. Healthy living and providing your body with adequate water each day can slow down premature aging and prevent many seniors from ending up in the hospital due to dehydration.
There are also certain risk factors you should watch for to detect early dehydration:
- Swallowing disorders caused by stroke, as well as Parkinson’s disease, or dementia.
- Seniors over the age of 85.
- Being sedentary for long periods of time, like being bedridden.
- Diarrhea, vomiting, or excessive sweating.
- Chronic diseases can contribute to dehydration, especially having more than 5 chronic diseases.
- Medications for other ailments, especially taking more than 5 prescription medications at a time.
In addition to knowing the risk factors, being aware of the signs of dehydration can help you spot them and rehydrate before it is too late.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Concentrated urine
- Increased heart rate
- Dryness in the nose and mouth
- Constipation or decreased bowel movements
- Bowel discomfort
- Acute confusion
Water hydrates every cell and every organ in the body, including the brain. More than 2/3 of the brain is made up of water. Age can affect the body’s physical and cognitive functions. Water won’t solve this problem but it is necessary for seniors in their daily lives. Five 8-ounce glasses of water a day is a good bench for elderly patients. Everyone’s needs vary, but studies have shown seniors who drink 5 glasses of water a day experience lower rates of fatal coronary heart disease. In addition to water, milk and juices can hydrate, as well as foods high in water.
It is important to make sure you and your loved one are drinking enough water and getting the exercise and activity needed for health and overall wellbeing. Resolve to make water consumption an important part of your daily routine.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below!