Staying hydrated seems like it’s an easy task, but many people become dehydrated without realizing they are, especially in the warmer months of spring and summer. Severe dehydration can cause many different complications, such as seizures, kidney failure, and even death, so it is important for seniors, their caregivers, and their family members to learn how to prevent dehydration and how to tell if someone becomes dehydrated.
Seniors Are More Prone to Dehydration
Adults between the ages of 85 to 99 are admitted to the hospital for dehydration six times more often than any other adults. Our muscles help our bodies to store water. As we age, we lose muscle mass, which explains why seniors get dehydrated more quickly than younger adults and children. But it’s not just our bodies that make seniors more prone to dehydration. Some medications and infections can also cause dehydration. Dementia and mobility issues may also play a role in seniors not drinking enough fluids and then becoming dehydrated.
Signs of Dehydration
Recognizing the signs of dehydration can help prevent you or your loved ones from suffering more serious complications. If your loved one has a sudden change in their mental state, dehydration might be to blame. Look for any of the following signs to determine whether or not you or someone you love is suffering from dehydration:
- Sunken look to the eyes
- Dry mouth
- Skin that doesn’t recover its normal appearance after you pinch a small section
- Rapid heartbeat
- Lower than normal blood pressure
- Decreased urine output
- Dizziness and/or confusion
Since dehydration can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, and confusion, it can put people at a higher risk for falls and injuries. Severe cases of dehydration can result in shock, seizures, kidney failure, brain swelling, coma, and death.
Stock your loved one’s fridge full of water, 100 percent juice, and milk. Simply the convenience of having the liquids nearby can make staying hydrated easy for many seniors. If it is a little more difficult for your loved one to remember to drink, try reminding them to drink a glass of a healthy liquid every couple of hours. If your loved one has cut down on liquids in order to try to reduce their bathroom visits, you can offer them foods with higher water content, like soups, fruits, and yogurt.
Consider tracking your loved one’s drinking habits. Create a chart and place a mark on it every time they drink a glass of liquid. Keeping a chart can help your loved one’s doctor later, should chronic dehydration become an issue for them.
If you suspect that your loved one is mildly dehydrated, call their doctor. If your loved one seems severely dehydrated, take them to the emergency room immediately. It is often more difficult to bring an older adult out of dehydration than it is to do the same for younger adults, so the hospital is the safest place for them to be when dehydration becomes a serious issue. The most important thing you can do is try to always stay aware of the amount of fluids that your loved one consumes. Prevention is the key.