Dehydration in seniors is a common cause of hospitalization. Did you know that as we age, our sense of thirst diminishes? Therefore, when your body needs water, you may not even know it. Many older adults don’t drink enough liquids. By the time they are thirsty, they could already be dehydrated.
Older adults are also at greater risk for dehydration because they have less water in their bodies than younger adults or children. Water is necessary for almost every bodily function, from lubricating joints to regulating body temperature to pumping blood to the muscles. So, without enough water, one can have serious health issues.
In addition, certain medical conditions and medications can affect one’s ability to retain fluids as well. Dementia patients may forget to eat and drink and may experience difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) that prevents them from getting the fluids they need. Medications like diuretics, antihistamines, laxatives, antipsychotics and corticosteroids can cause frequent urination that depletes water and electrolytes. Furthermore, older adults who experience incontinence often purposely refuse or limit fluids in order to avoid accidents.
It is important to recognize the symptoms of dehydration in seniors: dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps even constipation. Persistent dehydration can cause difficulty walking, confusion, rapid heart rate and these severe symptoms can lead to hospitalization, which can sometimes make the confusion ever worse.
TIPS FROM SPRINGHOUSE SENIOR LIVING
Let’s face it, water is sometimes boring so try offering fruit in with the water or flavoring to it to make it more exciting and enjoyable.
- Even milk or low sugar juice is ok.
- Caffeinated tea or coffee will have a slight effect, so they should not be counted toward a fluid intake.
Older adults have a hard time drinking an eight ounces glass of water at one time never mind needs 64 ounces throughout the day.
- Encourage sips before, during and after mealtime.
- Purchase a mug that keeps beverages cold for a long period of time and remind them to take sips every few minutes.