Drinking enough throughout the day is important for seniors because it helps them to maintain overall health. The body needs fluids to digest food, use the nutrients in it, and then eliminate wastes from the body. When an older adult does not get enough liquids, they can become dehydrated. In fact, seniors are at a greater risk for dehydration. Sometimes they don’t recognize when they are thirsty, or they take medications that have dehydration as a side effect.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration happens when a person either loses too much fluid or doesn’t take in enough to replenish fluids that have been lost. Because older adults normally have less fluid in their bodies than younger people, they may become dehydrated more easily.
Symptoms of dehydration in an older adult include:
- Feeling very thirsty.
- Not urinating as often or having urine that is dark in color.
Most of the time, mild and moderate dehydration can be fixed by drinking liquids. However, when dehydration is severe, the older adult should receive immediate medical attention. Left untreated, dehydration can lead to complications including:
- Seizures: Dehydration makes the body’s electrolytes become unbalanced. Since electrolytes carry electrical signals, when they are out of balance, the result can be seizures.
- Urinary Tract and Kidney Problems: Long-lasting dehydration or repeatedly becoming dehydrated can cause urinary tract infections and kidney problems, including kidney failure.
- Low Blood Volume: Dehydration can cause a drop in blood volume, which can lead to a serious condition called hypovolemic shock. When this happens, blood pressure gets low and the amount of oxygen in the body is decreased.
Tips for Avoiding Dehydration.
There are many ways to prevent your aging relative from becoming dehydrated, and an elder care provider can help. Some tips for avoiding dehydration are:
- Keep a full water bottle on hand. An elder care provider can keep the bottle filled with cold, fresh water and remind the older adult to drink occasionally.
- Drink water with pills. Elder care providers can encourage older adults to drink a full glass of water each time they take medications.
- Have a glass of water before going for a walk or working in the garden.
- Add foods that contain liquid to the senior’s diet. Elder care providers can offer watermelon, a cup of soup, or other foods that have water in them as snacks.
Although all liquids count toward fluid intake, the CDC says that water is the best option. Water contains no calories, added sugars, or sodium. In addition to offering water throughout the day, elder care providers can also track the amount of liquid an older adult consumes to help prevent dehydration.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Summit, NJ, call the caring staff at Helping Hands Home Care today at 908-418-4299. Providing Home Care Services in all of Northern and Central NJ, including Clark, Westfield, Cranford, Scotch Plains, Rahway, Linden, Summit, Edison, Elizabeth, Mountainside and the surrounding areas.
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