Are You Drinking Enough Water? Dehydration Is a Hidden Risk for Seniors

July 5th, 2016 by John Wilson

You probably know if you spend significant time outdoors in the heat, exercise intensely or experience vomiting or diarrhea, you could be at risk of becoming dehydrated. Knowing dehydration is a possibility, you probably are careful to drink plenty of water. For seniors, dehydration can occur even without such obvious causes, and it can be especially dangerous. If your loved one is being cared for in an Oklahoma assisted living facility, you can be confident the caregivers are trained to spot the signs of dehydration.

Causes of Dehydration in Seniors

In addition to the usual suspects, such as overexertion and spending too much time in the heat, seniors may also become dehydrated as a result of certain medications. Some medications are diuretics and others increase perspiration. Additionally, by the time people reach the age of 70, their organ function begins to decline. That’s a simple side effect of the aging process. Even a slight decrease in kidney function can increase the risks of dehydration. Another cause of dehydration that’s particularly dangerous to seniors is they may feel thirsty but may be too weak to get up to get a drink to quench their thirst and may not have anyone around to bring them water.

Seniors are encouraged to drink water in assisted living.

Assisted living encourages seniors to drink more water.

Keeping Seniors Hydrated

One of the best ways seniors can ensure they are adequately hydrated is to weigh themselves when they wake up each morning. If the scale shows a senior weights two or more pounds less than the prior morning, that may be a red flag for dehydration. Daily weigh-ins are routine with senior living in Oklahoma City. Additionally, caregivers should make sure seniors always have easy access to water. Seniors who are immobile should always have a lightweight pitcher and cup within reach. How much water should seniors drink? A good rule of thumb is to determine 1/3 of a person’s body weight in pounds and drink that number of ounces of water each day. For instance, a 120-pound woman would need 40 ounces of water per day or about five eight-ounce cups of water. Caregivers should encourage seniors to drink, even if they’re not thirsty. Often, thirst is a signal mild dehydration is already present.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Besides extreme thirst, other signs of dehydration include headaches, dizziness, feeling thirsty, dry mouth and tongue, thick saliva, dark-colored urine, cramps and lack of tear production. Symptoms of severe dehydration include rapid breathing, rapid yet weak pulse, loss of skin elasticity, bloated stomach and low blood pressure. Our bodies are made up primarily of water, and without it, organs will begin to shut down.

If you have an elderly loved one, you’ve probably learned when it comes to their health, you cannot assume anything. Many seniors need to be gently reminded to take their medications, eat well-balanced meals and even drink water so they’ll stay hydrated. It can be tough as a caregiver, but it comes as second nature to our skilled caregivers at Village at Oakwood. Taking excellent care of our senior residents is not just a job for our compassionate team; it is a passion. If you are ready to learn about the best senior living Oklahoma City has to offer, contact us. We look forward to meeting you and your senior loved one.

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