Unfortunately, dehydration and seniors seem to go hand in hand.
Getting enough fluids to remain healthy can be difficult for many of us. It can be even harder for older people. And dehydration can have an adverse effect on our health. Are you concerned about your loved one who may be prone to or suffering from dehydration? There are signs to look for a few causes to keep in mind. The best cure for dehydration and seniors is prevention.
Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration in seniors is not uncommon. It can be difficult to tell in the early stages. Furthermore, it can lead to several health challenges. The most obvious cause is simply not getting enough fluids.
Certain medications can lead to dehydration. And, it is common for older people to be taking several different medications at the same time. Some of them may act as a diuretic. Others may cause them to sweat, which will decrease the amount of water in the body.
Illness can also cause a person to become dehydrated. If there is vomiting or diarrhea involved, dehydration can start rather quickly. Additionally, if the illness is causing them a stomach upset, they may not be eating or drinking enough.
There may be less kidney function. Perhaps the kidneys are not working properly. As we age, the kidneys are unable to hold as much fluid. This can start as early as 50 but gets more serious over 70.
And, the fact is, people of a certain age may not feel thirsty. They also may have problems getting up to get a drink or a piece of fruit. And if getting up and down is hard for them they may avoid drinking much. This is because they know if the drink more they will have to get up to go to the bathroom more also. If they rely on someone to get it for them, they may not ask because they feel like they are being a pest.
Tell-tale Signs of Dehydration
The signs for dehydration in seniors are different from signs in younger people. For instance, in someone younger, their skin may start to pucker. That won’t be noticeable in someone who has older skin.
However, you can do the small pinch test. Gently pull up a small pinch of skin on the back of their hand. If it bounces back immediately, they are not dehydrated. If it remains raised, they are dehydrated.
Signs someone is dehydrated can vary. But here are several to watch out for.
- Dry mouth, tongue, and throat
- Chapped lips
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Dizziness or headaches
- Sunken eyes
- Inability to produce tears or sweat
- Rapid heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Low urine output
- Dark urine
Checking the person’s weight each morning can also be a good indication. Track their weight every day. If you see a drop of two pounds or more, it could be due to dehydration.
If you notice any or several of these signs, contact a medical professional.
Preventing Dehydration in Seniors
Preventing dehydration starts with a healthy balanced diet. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and make sure they consume enough fluids. Keeping a water bottle handy for them can help them drink more.
Water-rich fruits and vegetables are a great way to help keep them hydrated. If it is full and with them, they will be more likely to drink more. Encourage them to drink even if they don’t feel thirsty.
While too much tea or coffee can act as a diuretic, taking a cup of tea to be social will still help keep their fluid levels up. Iced tea, fruit juices and sports drinks can also be included.
Keep in mind that many fruit drinks or sodas can be very high in sugar, so bear that in mind when offering those. There are also flavourings available for those who don’t like to drink water.
Everyone involved needs to know the signs and the dangers of dehydration. If your loved one is on their own, be sure to remind them to drink water often. If they have a care worker, educate them about their condition.
Family members also need to know. It can help if they drink with the senior, to make it seem like they are not alone. Invite them to drink some herbal tea with you, as a social nicety.
Encourage them to drink a lot of water with their medications. This will help get more water in their system and combat the dry mouth effect and diarrhea that some medications can cause
If you are able, keep track of what they are eating and drinking. You will have a better idea of how much fluids they are consuming each day. If you have a lot of fruit and vegetables for them to eat, count how many are there each day.
You can also add fresh fruit to water, make them a smoothie with fruits and vegetables, and use older vegetables in soups and sauces.
It can be difficult to get people to drink water when they don’t want to or don’t care about it. Find a way to encourage them to do so. It may take some patience and some creativity.
Find a mug or water bottle they like, mix in fruit or powdered flavoring and drink with them so they don’t feel singled out.
The staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that! Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!