Anyone who looks after an elderly loved one should know that dehydration is a serious concern and is far too easy to develop. Because most people assume that seniors will always drink enough fluids, it’s very easy to overlook the causes and solutions to elderly dehydration. The bad news is that even mild dehydration in the elderly can lead to numerous issues, and more severe dehydration causes considerable health problems that can have lasting effects. Learning more about dehydration can help family caregivers prepare an elderly care plan that helps seniors avoid the condition.
How Do Seniors Get Dehydrated?
There are a number of challenges that seniors face in keeping their bodies hydrated. Of course, as the body ages, it has a harder time retaining fluids so even the smallest imbalance can trigger dehydration. Many seniors report that they are much less aware of thirst and therefore ignore the natural promptings to take regular drinks. Many prescription medications that seniors take can also cause the body to lose fluids. Finally, sometimes seniors are affected by physical or mental health issues that interfere with regular fluid consumption, such as a stroke, dementia, depression, diarrhea or being bedridden.
Symptoms of Elderly Dehydration
It’s often difficult for family caregivers to identify the symptoms of dehydration in their aging loved ones because they mimic many other conditions associated with aging. That’s why so many seniors become dehydrated and don’t get the treatments and care they need.
Mild symptoms of dehydration include headaches, irritability, dizziness, excessive sleep, weakness in the limbs, aches or cramps in the limbs, constipation, inability to urinate, dark colored urine, and dry mouth. When dehydration has moved to a more serious state, symptoms can include rapid breathing, rapid pulse, muscle cramps, sunken eyes, dry eyes and mouth, reduced skin elasticity, disorientation, low blood pressure and even unconsciousness.
Treating Dehydration in Elderly Loved Ones
If the dehydration is mild, family caregivers can provide plenty of water or sports drinks to their elderly loved one and encourage them to sip it over the next hour or so. They should continue to drink water after that, even if they don’t feel thirsty. When the urine color lightens again, their body should be sufficiently hydrated.
As part of an effective elderly care plan, caregivers can ensure that their elderly loved ones don’t get dehydrated by following a few simple practices. Keeping a full water bottle within easy reach is a fine way to remind seniors to drink throughout the day. Family members, elderly care assistants and others should take every chance to remind the elderly person to drink frequently. Seniors can also stay hydrated by partaking of fluid-rich foods and snacks, such as watermelon, melon, celery, oranges, grapes, strawberries, pineapple, and cucumbers. Sucking on ice chips and enjoying slushes and smoothies can also provide much-needed fluids.
When seniors are properly hydrated, their bodies will be able to function better and they can heal faster and stay healthier for longer. Family caregivers should always consider dehydration as
something to avoid when implementing a proper elderly care plan for their aging loved one.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Fairfax, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.