While we typically focus on the need to stay hydrated during the warm summer months, senior dehydration is a threat throughout the year. In fact, as many as half of all adults over age 65 are experiencing chronic under-hydration, which can lead to a host of health concerns, such as UTIs, kidney stones, and even a heightened risk of falling.
Senior dehydration can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Side effects from medications
- A diminished feeling of being thirsty
- Less efficient kidneys
- A decreased ability to maintain an ideal fluid level in the body
- And others
Knowing how much fluid a senior should consume each day, and tracking fluid intake, is key. There’s a simple calculation you can use to help. Divide the senior’s body weight by 1/3, and ensure he or she drinks that many ounces of water each day. For instance, a senior who weighs 150 pounds needs to drink at least 50 ounces of water daily – a little over six cups.
Spotting and getting help for senior dehydration quickly is crucial; it’s much easier to correct a mild case of dehydration than a more severe one. Here’s what you should watch for in the seniors you love:
Dehydration Red Flags (Mild):
- Dark-colored urine
- Less urine output
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramping
- Feeling irritable
Dehydration Red Flags (Severe):
- Fast, faint pulse
- Difficulty walking
- Low blood pressure
- Intensified muscle cramps
- Less elasticity in skin
- Dry, sunken eyes
- Faster breathing
Get immediate medical attention if you suspect senior dehydration. Extremely dangerous health concerns can develop quickly when symptoms such as these are present.
Prevent senior dehydration by providing plenty of fluids throughout the course of the day. Plain water is best, but you can also flavor the water with sliced cucumber or citrus fruit to make it more appealing. You can also try different temperatures to see what the senior prefers. In the morning, for instance, a warmed cup of water with lemon can be comforting. Later in the day, try chilled water served over ice.
Geriatric nurse Anne Vanderbilt, CNS, explains the most effective way to ensure seniors stay hydrated. “What I often see in our advanced older adults – people in their 80s and 90s – is that they can’t sit down and drink a full 8-ounce glass of water. It fills them up, causes bloating and then makes them have to run to the bathroom. So little sips throughout the day are better.”
The professional caregivers at SYNERGY HomeCare, one of the top-rated caregiver agencies in Chicago, is here to help ensure seniors stay healthy and hydrated each day. Call us at (773) 868-3183 for a free in-home consultation to learn more!