Dehydration is a common condition among seniors.
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in. In addition to not consuming enough liquids it can also be caused by diseases and medications, especially diuretics. It is one of the leading causes of hospitalization. Even though a body’s weight is 60 to 70 percent water, a water loss of just 2 percent can trigger the start of dehydration. When an imbalance occurs there can be serious consequences affecting both mental and physical well-being.
Caregivers should be on the alert for symptoms of dehydration. If thirst occurs, dehydration has already begun. Some other symptoms include fatigue, constipation, weight loss, infrequent urination, dark colored urine, dry mouth, and low blood pressure, as well as a decreased ability to function. There is a danger that seniors may not know they are dehydrated so it is important for caregivers to monitor their intake of fluids.
The rule of thumb is eight glasses of water a day but this can vary by individual. Much of our fluids are also obtained from the food we eat so a senior’s diet plays an important role in avoiding dehydration. Fruits and vegetables with high water content as well as soups and juice can help maintain hydration these details.
Caregivers can help prevent dehydration in seniors by reminding them to drink, keeping fluids nearby, and providing a variety of liquids like fruit juices, soups and other healthy beverages. A registered dietitian and/or physician should be consulted if dehydration is a continuing problem.