In the hot and humid summer months it is very important to keep yourself hydrated, especially for older adults. The rule of thumb is to drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. But most people do not drink enough water because water is tasteless compared to other choices that are more satisfying. It is especially hard to live by that rule because you probably have to break a habit of drinking coffee, soda, juice or tea all day. Not getting enough fluids especially when it is hot outside, can pose a serious health issue for anyone, but older adults are at a higher risk for dehydration.
Senior dehydration is a common health issue and a frequent cause of hospitalization and can lead to bigger problems if proper hydration is not made a priority. There are a few reasons why older adults are more susceptible to fluid and electrolyte imbalances. As we age our body’s ability to conserve water reduces, and dehydration is a loss of water in your body. Our bodies are naturally finding it hard to conserve water then when it gets hot our bodies lose even more water. Then that in turn makes it more difficult for our bodies to adapt to fluctuating temperatures. Additionally some seniors have medical conditions and take medications that can affect their ability to retain fluids. Some seniors who experience incontinence can purposely refuse or limit fluids so they do not have an accident.
Signs of Dehydration
- Muscle cramps
- Dry mouth or tongue
Signs of Severe Dehydration
- Little or no urination
- Dark or amber colored urine
- Dry skin that stays folded when pinched
- Rapid breathing/heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Weak pule
- Cold hands and feet
If severe dehydration does unchecked it can cause seizures, a reduction in the volume of blood in the body, kidney failure, heat injuries and even coma or death. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods that are high in water content is a great way to keep our bodies properly hydrated. A couple ways to prevent dehydration if a senior is sweating or urinating more often, then their fluid intake should become more frequent to balance out the fluid they have lost. If a senior is suffering from a illness that causes fever, diarrhea or vomiting then monitor their fluid intake as well. If a senior refuses to drink plain water then modify it with flavored water, water enhancers, or half water half juice mixture. Gatorade, popsicles, smoothies and broth are all good alternatives too. Be sure to not give fluids that have caffeine or alcohol because those can dry you out. Also, don’t forget that there are foods that are a good source of fluids, such as fruits and vegetables.
If you think your loved one might be dehydrated be sure to call your healthcare provider or 911. Keep water bottles and fluids readily available all day and encourage fluids on a regular basis.
You can contact Relevar Home Care to learn more about staying hydrated! We service many Metro Detroit counties including Macomb and Lapeer. Call us now at (586)-493-7677!