Proper hydration is important for everyone, but even more so for seniors. Seniors typically have less body mass than younger people, meaning they have a smaller reserve of fluids. This means that dehydration is more common in elderly and can also come on more quickly. As we head into warmer months, it’s important to understand what dehydration can lead to and how to avoid it.
Potential Risks Of Dehydration
- Kidney Issues
Without proper hydration, the kidneys can’t properly filter the blood in the body. This can lead to kidney issues which can lead to confusion, lethargy and ultimately kidney failure.
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis
For seniors that already suffer from diabetes, dehydration can be particularly dangerous. Dehydration in diabetics can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis which causes naturally occurring acids in the body to build up and potentially cause organ failure or death.
- Heart issues
Without proper hydration, the blood in the body can thicken which causes the heart to go into overdrive to circulate blood throughout the body. This can lead to heart attacks and even heart failure.
Signs of Dehydration in Seniors
As was mentioned, dehydration in seniors can progress quickly so here are a few warning signs to keep an eye out for:
- Proper hydration leads to an increased need to urinate. If you are noticing that you or a loved one is not visiting the restroom as much as usual, it could be a precursor to dehydration.
- Urine color is a telltale sign of proper hydration. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated the individual is.
- A dry mouth can be another early sign that you are dehydrated. If you are suffering from a dry or sticky mouth, try drinking a few glasses of water.
- Headaches can also be a sign of dehydration. Dehydration headaches can occur all of the head--top, back or front. They are caused by a lack of fluid and are typically aggravated by bending over or another form of physical exertion.
To combat signs of dehydration, try drinking an 8oz glass of water every 15-20 minutes until symptoms have decreased.
How much water should seniors be drinking?
Seniors should ensure they are drinking at least eight 8oz glasses of water each day. Try filling a large pitcher or water bottle with water to make it easy to accomplish drinking 64oz of water in a day. Another option is to add flavor enhancers or infuse water with fruits and herbs to encourage seniors to want to stay hydrated.
Additionally, fruits like melons have high water content and can aid in keeping seniors hydrated.