Dehydration is a risk that anyone at any age can suffer from, however even more so for those in their golden years, with the risk of medication or fluid restriction prescribed by a doctor that can bring on dehydration. As we age our fluid reserve shrinks and we lose the ability to maintain fluids. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia can also bring these issues about. Being limited in mobility may also cause dehydration in seniors as it becomes harder to get water to drink.
What Causes Dehydration?
As mentioned, certain medications and fluid restrictions can cause dehydration. And as we age, we are more susceptible to both. Many people on medication may not know that dehydration can be a side effect. It’s good to consult with your doctor about dehydration being a side effect before starting a course of medication.
Those who have kidney problems are also at risk of dehydration. Kidneys that don’t process fluids as well as before may affect the bladder and increase the need of using the bathroom and lead to fluid loss. Other infections concerning the lungs, such as pneumonia, prohibit the amount of fluid we can take. Our sense of thirst may also decrease as we age. This means our bodies are not telling us when and how much water we need properly. This can lead to dehydration as those who experience this cannot discern between feeling thirsty and feeling fine.
Symptoms of Dehydration
If you are unsure if your loved one is currently suffering from dehydration, here are some symptoms to look out for.
- A decrease in blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Loose skin
- Less frequent urination
- Dark urine
These are a few of the symptoms of dehydration that you could look out for. If your loved one drinks a lot of sweet drinks instead of drinking water, that also does not count as being properly hydrated. Whilst they may not be feeling thirsty, the only true way to combat dehydration is by drinking water.
Being dehydrated can lead to several different complications that can affect the quality of your loved one’s life. These include urinary and kidney problems such as a urinary tract infection or kidney stones and in some extreme cases, kidney failure. Seizures can also be brought on by dehydration. With a lack of electrolytes that help transmit electrical signals between your cells, normal electrical messages can mix up and induce muscle contractions and even a loss of consciousness. Hypovolemic shock or low blood volume shock is the most serious of all these. It is a sudden drop in blood pressure due to a lack of oxygen in your body.
Prevention and Treatment
Drink plenty of clear fluids such as water, broth, sports drinks, and ice pops. More severe cases of dehydration may need intravenous fluids in order to replenish their body. Eat foods that are high in water and fiber like fruits and vegetables. It is also important to listen to your body to figure out when it needs water. Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration when facing minor illnesses such as bronchitis, influenza, and bladder infections. Make sure to be extra alert during these times.
Dehydration is a huge risk for older adults, and we would not want our loved ones to suffer through this. By understanding the importance and treatments of dehydration, you can help your loved one avoid its complications.