As people age, health issues become more apparent and abundant. Elderly dehydration is an example of a health problem that can plague senior citizens. To make things even more complicated, dehydration for those who are advanced in age is actually a hidden risk because not many people know it can happen and that it occurs too often.
It is critical for caregivers who assist the elderly to become aware that this a health concern so they can recognize signs of dehydration in their elderly patients. Once they do notice these, they can treat the issue promptly to prevent further complications. Most of all, they can administer preventive health measures to mitigate the problem of dehydration.
Why is Elderly Dehydration a Critical Concern?
This may seem like a minimal health issue, but with the fragile health system of older people, dehydration can actually be fatal. In general, dehydration occurs when there are quick and rapid shifts in the water balance of the human body. The physical changes that come with aging predispose the elderly even more to the risks associated with dehydration.
To make things worse, the elderly usually do not know they are suffering a dehydrated condition. Thus, they go on about their day and fail to treat themselves by upping their water intake. This is even more dangerous as it may result in graver consequences that can inflict more damage to an older person’s system.
Several types of research noted that elderly dehydration is rampant in long-term care facilities. About 31 percent of their elderly patients were indeed dehydrated. A more alarming study noted there is about 48 percent of the elderly who are admitted into the ER exhibiting signs of dehydration in their lab results.
This is a critical finding as it indicates that most people who end up in urgent care do so for something that can be easily changed by drinking more water. Imagine, you can save your loved one from a world of pain if you know what to watch for. You must also make it your responsibility to remind the caregivers of your loved one to keep a watchful eye on this critical health problem.
Factors that Cause Dehydration in the Older Generation
Dehydration in the senior citizen bracket is due in part to insufficient water intake. As crazy as it may sound, some of them forget to drink the prescribed amount of water. Remember, everyone must have a minimum consumption of eight glasses of water daily, more if you engage in a lot of activities and live in warmer climates.
Dehydration can also happen for many other reasons, such as loose bowel movement, excessive sweating, loss of blood, and other health issues like diabetes. It can also be due to a side effect of taking medication, such as diuretics.
Their advanced age makes the elderly less observant of their thirst level. At the same time, the older people become, the more difficult it becomes for the human body to regulate its fluid level balance. As a result, the elderly become more predisposed to dehydration. Look at these critical points:
1. The older generation does not feel as thirsty anymore
Researchers warn that the ability to become aware of thirst and to respond to this occurrence is slowly blunted and diminished as we age. Thus, the older generation do not feel thirst like they did when they were younger.
Because of this issue, this increases the risk of them unknowingly consuming less water throughout the day. As a result, they suffer from dehydration, which they may not even notice is happening.
2. Lesser body fluids when aging
Like all humans, our bodies lose water the older we become. Take note of the following facts: when we are in our 40s, the proportion of total fluids in our body weight is about 60 percent in males and 52 percent in females. The percentage difference in gender is due to more muscle mass and lesser body fat in males compared to females. Furthermore, science dictates that muscles contain more water than fats.
Once we hit the age of 60, this figure drastically goes down. Men now have 52 percent, and women have 46 percent. The reason for this decline is that we lose more muscle mass as we become older. On top of that, there is a corresponding increase in our fat cells. Overall lower kidney function in the older generation
Our kidneys, which are in charge of taking away the harmful toxins from our blood, progressively diminishes and declines as we become more advanced in age. This means our kidney’s ability to filter out these toxins are not as efficient when compared to our younger years. At an advanced age, the kidneys need more water to produce urine.
It is critical to take note of all these risk factors, so we will become more aware and vigilant about keeping an eye on our loved ones. If your loved ones live in an assisted living facility, you must constantly remind their caregivers of these risk factors. If they fail to identify and treat dehydration among their elderly patients, the consequences will be more grave and severe.
The elderly who experience dehydration may lose consciousness. On top of that, they can get a weak but rapid pulse and lowered blood pressure. If they are not hydrated soon, the situation can turn life-threatening.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Dehydration
Everyone should know the signs of dehydration, so we can address the issue promptly. Those who are caring for the elderly crowd should be more vigilant about identifying these signs, so they can provide relief right away. By catching dehydration in the elderly community early on, you can prevent complications. These are the things you must remind the caregivers to take note of:
Mild symptoms of dehydration
These details pertain to a mild dehydration problem. These symptoms can be addressed easily by making an elderly patient rest, and then giving him or her sufficient amounts of water. Here are the symptoms:
- Mouth dryness
- Unusually dry tongue
- Thick saliva
- Unable to urinate or only pass small amounts of pee
- Too dark or very yellow urine
- Cramps in the limbs
- Unusual headaches
- Crying but with no or little tears produced
- Overall weakness
- General body malaise
- Highly irritable
More Serious Dehydration Symptoms
These following symptoms are the more serious signs we should watch for. Caregivers must have special instructions to be more vigilant about these red flags because if they do not promptly address them, they can be life-threatening. Low BP or blood pressure
- Sudden onset of convulsions
- Severe muscle cramps due to muscle contractions in the limbs, stomach, and back area
- Unusually bloated stomach
- Very rapid but weak pulse
- Dry and sunken eyes with no tears
- Skin becomes even more wrinkled and doesn’t look elastic
- Rapid and shallow breathing
Staying Hydrated for Good Health
Every person knows that water is life. After all, around 75 percent of the human body is comprised of water. We all need water to live a good life, but unfortunately, many seem to forget there are many benefits to keeping hydrated. Thus, they neglect to drink enough water and think that drinking coke or coffee would have the same results. People could not be more wrong.
Sugary drinks are harmful to the body and predispose us to diabetes. Drinks such as tea and coffee have diuretic properties that can make us pee more. The truth is, water is the best liquid we can drink, and nothing can replace it when it comes to cleansing our body’s system and removing harmful toxins.
Here are some advantages to staying hydrated. This should motivate you to increase your water intake. You can also use these to remind your loved ones to be more vigilant about consuming more water.
- Older people who get sufficient amounts of water are less predisposed to suffering constipation. Thus, they use fewer laxatives, don’t succumb to fainting due to water loss, and for men, they have a lower risk of cancer in their bladder. Lesser bouts with constipation also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Consuming at least five 8-ounce glasses of water a day will reduce the risk of a fatal heart problem among older adults.
- Those who drink more water, especially adults, have more supple skin. After all, the body is mostly made up of water.
- Those who drink more water are kinder to their internal organs because the body can filter the toxins in the system more effectively and gently.
There are many benefits to drinking water, especially in the elderly. Caregivers must make it their priority to constantly remind their elderly patients to drink water. If possible, they must have water within easy reach of their elderly wards, so laziness will not set in when it comes to drinking. When the water is within easy access, there is no excuse not to drink it anymore.
An awesome formula to follow to determine how much water a person needs daily is this: take one-third of the person’s body weight in pounds and drink this same number of ounces in water daily. To illustrate, a 150-pound lady must take in at least 50 ounces of water in a day. This equates to six 8 ounces glasses of water.
Other Hydration Tips to Abide by for the Elderly
- If the elderly patients’ current water intake is below their required amount for daily consumption, be sure to increase the amount they drink in gradual increments.
- Remind your loved ones to drink before they feel the need to quench their thirst. In fact, when you begin to feel thirsty, it is too late already. That’s the first warning sign that dehydration has begun to commence. Do yourself a favor and drink before you feel the pang for thirst.
- One sign of good hydration is urine color. The best color is clear to pale yellow. If your urine is extremely dark and deep yellow, it’s a sign that you need to increase your water intake.
- Be wary of what you put in your mouth. Minimize alcohol consumption, which is even more detrimental to an older person’s body. Minimize the intake of caffeine beverages because it can act as a diuretic. As a result, the body’s kidneys will secrete more water, causing more dehydration.
- As soon as you see the early signs of dehydration, you must offer a sports beverage right away. This will not only replenish the water but infuse more electrolytes which your body needs.
- It is vital to note the severe dehydration is a serious medical issue. Consult your doctor right away if you notice this, especially in your elderly patients who can deteriorate at a much faster rate without the proper balance of water and minerals in their systems.
Why Choose the Villas at San Bernardino?
Our caring family at the Villas at San Bernardino understands that we face obstacles as we grow older. However, being old doesn’t mean you will no longer enjoy life. At our villas, you can use our assisted living services to help you with your daily activities. We also provide memory care services to meet your individual needs. We will make it our responsibility to ensure you or your loved ones will always stay hydrated.
Apart from that, we also offer socialization among the elderly peers, so you or your loved ones can remain truly healthy and happy. After all, no man is an island, and it is depressing to live alone with no daily human interaction. Contact us today so we can help you book your tour to learn more about our facilities. We are looking forward to seeing you or your loved one.