Did you know that humans are made up of about 60% water!? We need to constantly replenish that water by taking in 6-8 glasses a day, and more in hot weather. Dehydration is so much more than just being thirsty. It has many effects on your body. It is so important for every human to keep up with their water intake. So what about out elderly loved ones who may not remember to drink enough, or who may be cognitively or physically impaired? What are the real effects of dehydration and what can be done to prevent it?
What can cause of dehydration?
As we get older, the water content in our body decreases, meaning we need to drink more often. The kidneys also become less efficient with age, causing the urine to contain more water. With age the sensation of thirst also decreases. Between those two, it is very easy to get dehydrated!
Another issue with age is medications that can alter the balance of salt and water in the body, tending to cause dehydration if not careful. For example, blood pressure medication can increase urination. Other medications may cause loose stools or increased sweating.
What does dehydration look like?
In Seniors, dehydration can cause confusion, delirium, or dizziness. You may also see changes in urine color, usually a darker color with a strong smell. It may cause headaches, dry skin, weak or rapid pulse, dry mount, sunken eyes, or low blood pressure.
What are the effects of dehydration?
For Seniors dehydration can lead to:
· Urinary Tract Infections
· Kidney Stones
· More Falls
· Longer Would Healing Times
· Hyperglycemia in Diabetes Patients
· Shortened Life Expectancy
How can you help your loved one drink more?
· Encourage your loved one to drink small sips more often. This may take consistency and remembering on your end.
· Keep a glass of water where it can be seen and easily reached
· Try offering a variety of flavors. Herbal teas, bubbly water, water flavorings, lemonade, etc.
· Smoothies, milk, or sports drinks are all suitable alternatives to water
· Offer broth sous or miso soup at different times during the day
· Experiment with different temperatures. One person may love ice cold water, while another might prefer room temperature
· Too many choices can be confusing. Try only giving a choice of 2 options each time you offer a drink.
Overall, proper hydration in seniors can lead to a more independent life and higher quality of life. It’s important not to overlook this aspect of their health and wellness. Keep pushing hydration!