Dehydration in Seniors Can Cause Serious Complications
March 12th, 2015 by John Wilson
Dehydration can be a serious problem in senior living.
As we get older, the fluids in our body change and an imbalance can cause dehydration, resulting in serious complications. If you have a senior living with you or in assisted senior care services, you need to be aware of the symptoms and possible causes of this condition.
Signs of Mild Dehydration
- Inability to urinate, less output, urine of a darker or deeper yellow color
- Unusually sleepy or irritable
- Feeling weak, fatigued, dizzy, confused or generally unwell
- Muscle cramping in arms or legs
- Dryness in mouth, lips or tongue
Signs of More Serious Dehydration
- Noticing skin wrinkling that wasn’t there previously, loss of elasticity
- Eyes that are sunken and dry with no tears or few tears
- Muscle cramping that is severe in stomach, back, arms or legs
Common Causes of Dehydration in Seniors
- Not feeling as thirsty as we age and as a result, not drinking enough water. As we get older, we become less aware of our thirst than when we were younger. The result is less water is consumed and our elderly are at risk of becoming dehydrated.
- Intentionally decreasing water intake. In senior living, many older adults will avoid drinking any water well before bedtime so they don’t have to get up often during the night or so they don’t accidentally urinate in bed if they sleep too soundly or are unable to make it to the bathroom in a timely manner.
- Decreased function in the kidneys. As we age, our body is unable to retain as much water. This is due to a loss of muscle mass along with the accompanying gain of fat cells. Kidneys become less efficient and as a result, seniors will lose more water than when they were younger.
- Medication and side effects from medication. Sometimes prescription medicines can cause uncomfortable side effects and these in turn will cause dehydration, such as diuretics. Some of these medication side effects are: diarrhea, increased sweating or increased urination.
- Physical or medical conditions can cause dehydration. If your elder has diabetes or has experienced blood loss, these can contribute to dehydration as well.
- Substituting poor choices for water. Many elderly make the mistake of thinking tea or coffee can replace the proper amount of water they should drink, but these do not substitute for water.
- Eating less water-rich foods. Many foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, are rich in water naturally; however, seniors often find it more convenient to eat dry foods like crackers, cookies or toast, which do not provide a natural means of hydration.
Helping Your Senior Stay Hydrated
- Encourage your senior to drink water, even when they are not thirsty.
- Offer sports drinks as an occasional alternative to water, flavor water with juice or offer them smoothies.
- Avoid too much sun during warmer weather.
- Keep a small glass of room-temperature water in each room to remind your senior to take sips.
If you are looking for affordable senior care services for your loved one, contact us. Village at Oakwood assisted living offers a wide range of services.
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