How To Prevent Senior Dehydration

Updated 8/25/15 10:18am | At Alert1 our new saying is a life well hydrated is a life well lived! Water sustains all life, yet many seniors do not drink enough water to stay healthy on a daily basis. Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization in seniors. Is your aging loved one drinking enough?

Dehydration occurs when an individual loses more water than they are taking in. Health complications often happen to adults over 60, as they are more susceptible.

Some of the signs of dehydration are hard to spot. But even these less noticeable symptoms have big effects on the body. Help your loved one avoid dehydration. Take the first step and educate yourself on the symptoms. 

Symptoms of senior dehydration

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Do you know the symptoms of dehydration? It can be more than just being thirsty. Maybe Mom hasn’t been finishing her water bottles. Or maybe she has been getting headaches. You can detect these senior warning signs through close monitoring and communication. Keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Inability to urinate
  • Dizziness
  • Cramping in limbs
  • Headaches
  • Fever or flushed face
  • Crying but with few or no tears
  • Weakness or difficulty walking
  • Sleepiness or irritability
  • Constipation

If Mom has these symptoms, get some water and electrolytes in her system. Have her drink a sports drink like Gatorade and give her foods with high water content like fruits and vegetables.

Now if Mom shows signs of lethargy, confusion, fainting or has low blood pressure, she needs hospitalization immediately. You can check for decreased skin turgor by pulling up the skin on her hand. If it does not return to normal almost immediately, she is severely dehydrated.

If your loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, press their medical alert system button and help will be on the way. Severe dehydration has serious risks associated with it and should be treated immediately.

Causes of senior dehydration

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We all know the main cause of dehydration: not drinking enough water. Did you know dehydration isn’t just caused by not drinking enough? There are the other issues that you must be aware of.

Illness and medications

Illness and medicationscan be big factors of dehydration. 

A senior who is ill may have diarrhea, vomiting or loss of blood which dehydrates quickly. The medications she is taking may be diuretic or cause her to sweat excessively. Also your senior may be dehydrated from not managing different prescriptions properly. Talk to Mom’s doctor if her medication is drying her out. Alert1’s medication dispenser and organizer will remind your senior to take the correct dose at the right time of day.

The aging body

Mom’s body is aging, and it can make it hard for her to drink enough. And what she does drink isn’t as effective as it was when she was younger. Always keep a bottle of water on Mom’s bedside table to prevent nighttime falls and save a trip to the kitchen when she feels thirsty.

Mom may not feel thirsty, even if she’s dehydrated. Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s often lose track of how much water they’ve drank throughout the day.If she has trouble moving around, she may drink less to avoid the perceived embarrassment of using the bathroom too often. 

Prevention tips for seniors

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Now that you know many reasons seniors get dehydrated, take these preventative measures to keep Mom safe, happy and healthy.

First thing first, make sure she is getting water in her system. Seniors should profusely drink water to keep cool in the hot summer months. Encourage her to drink even when she isn’t thirsty yet. Make it even easier for her to drink enough with these tips:

  • Give her food with high water content such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.
  • Use small, “kid sized” water bottles. This will be less overwhelming than a giant jug.
  • Keep water next to Mom at all times. Keep a glass next to her bed and favorite chair. Having it nearby will encourage her to sip throughout the day.
  • Mix it up. Have Mom try different types of beverages at different temperatures. You can even get liquids into your stubborn senior by giving her popsicles, smoothies, milkshakes or sport drinks.

Now that Mom is full of H20, make sure she doesn’t lose it. These tips will keep her from losing too much water:

  • Protect Mom’s eyes with UV-resistant lenses and have her wear broad sunhats to keep her cool.
  • Keep her out of the sun. You want her to get outside, but too much sun will dry her out. If she is going to be out for a long time, make sure she drinks more than usual.
  • Weigh her every day. If she is 2 pounds less than the day before and has a headache or feels thirsty, she is probably dehydrated. Mild dehydration is defined as losing 2% of body weight, while severe dehydration is losing 4%. Even mild dehydration can affect a person’s health, especially if she has cardiac or kidney problems.
  • Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks (see seniors and diabetes fall risks). These are diuretic, making it easier for the body to become dehydrated.   

Enjoy summer safely

It’s time for seniors to enjoy the summer. Keep Mom hydrated and safe so that dehydration doesn’t ruin the fun. Know the dangers and raise awareness of the risks that come with the hot summer months. Prevention is key to keeping your loved one’s happy and healthy throughout the year.