Dehydration and the Elderly
Dehydration is sometimes a forgotten challenge until one becomes ill. However, for elderly adults, dehydration can be a problem daily. We do not always recognize the signs of dehydration in the elderly. Below are some signs of dehydration in the elderly and some ways to combat them.
Thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration. When we are thirsty, we often lack the water our bodies need. Soft-drinks, coffee, and teas can quench those thirsts, but they can also contribute to the lack of adequate water. While they do not cause an issue for most people, those at higher risk for dehydration want to drink more water than flavoured drinks.
This symptom is often overlooked. Older adults are tired. We expect grandma to want to take a nap in the afternoon if she has always done so. However, when those naps are more frequent or more prolonged, this can be a sign of dehydration.
Dry Skin, Lips, Eyes, Mouth
As our body lacks water, the evidence can be seen on the outside. If Grandfather is complaining of dry skin or lips, this could be a red flag. Dry skin happens some as we age, but sudden onsets are not common.
Dizziness and disorientation are immediate red flags that something is wrong. You might not know it is dehydration at first, so you should be aware of the other symptoms too. Dizziness and disorientation can accompany infections as well.
Dark or Foul-Smelling Urine
One of the first signs of dehydration is darker urine. Urine should be pale-yellow to clear. Darker tints are immediate signs your loved one needs fluids.
Overcoming dehydration is tricky if it gets too far. Keep a check on your loved one to make sure that this doesn’t become a problem.
- Offer More Fluids
Offer your loved one extra fluids throughout the day. An extra glass of water goes a long way to combatting dehydration. This can help prevent it before it starts.
- Set a Timer
If your loved one does not like to drink water but frequently shows signs of dehydration, set a timer. Have them drink some water when the timer sounds. Just a small glass each hour or so can be beneficial.
- Offer Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables can be excellent sources of water. Oranges and citrus fruits tend to have more water than other fruits and vegetables. These foods are an easy way to get a little more fluid in your diet.
- Call the Doctor
If you are concerned that there is a problem with your loved one, call their physician. They will advise you on whether intravenous fluids are needed. If they are, accompany your loved one to the clinic or hospital. Let the caregivers know what makes you suspect dehydration.
You cannot stop all instances of dehydration, but with these tips, you can avoid most of them. If your loved one still shows symptoms like confusion or dizziness, contact the physicians immediately as these can be signs of more severe illnesses.