Arizona summers are hot and most people who live here know how important drinking plenty of water is when they are going about their daily lives. It’s even more important for seniors to stay sufficiently hydrated all year long as this group is more susceptible of becoming dangerously dehydrated. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in and the body does not have enough water and electrolytes to carry out its normal function. Dehydration is a dangerous health condition at any age, however elderly people have a higher risk because many are on prescription medications, may have chronic diseases, muscular and/or neurological condition or cognitive challenges.
Proper hydration is important for everyone’s health and at Yuma Senior Living we take the role of supporting sufficient hydration for our residents seriously. Some of the warning signs of dehydration include the following.
Warning Signs of Dehydration in Seniors
1) Complains of Thirst: If your loved one is more thirsty than usual, it can be one of the first signs of dehydration.
2) Dry lips or mouth: If lips look dry and their mouth feels dry, they need to drink.
3) Changes in mood: When a senior becomes dehydrated, it can affect their mood and they can become irritated or withdrawn. It can also cause them to be more tired than usual even after resting.
4) Constipation: Seniors that are dehydrated may get constipated and may not be able to go to the bathroom as often as they should due to inadequate water levels in the body and intestines. Urine will be dark yellow instead of light, indicating the body is not getting enough fluids.
5) Less skin elasticity: Elasticity in the skin, known as turgor, is a good indicator of whether someone is dehydrated. When the skin on the back of the hand is pulled, it should spring back within a second. If the skin stays puckered and wrinkled, then dehydration is in effect.
6) Dizziness and headaches: When an elderly person’s body is desperate for fluids, they can experience headaches and dizziness. This is especially dangerous because they are at a higher risk for slip and fall accidents.
7) Disorientation: Is your loved one feeling dizzy or unsteady on their feet? It’s common for people in the later stages of dehydration to experience confusion and disorientation. It can be especially hard to distinguish disorientation caused by dehydration if the person is in the early stages of dementia.
8) Losing weight: When seniors are dehydrated, they can lose a couple of pounds of weight. While it’s not unusual for weight to fluctuate, it is a symptom of dehydration that may help caregivers figure out what’s going on.
9) Low blood pressure: When dehydration is significant, it’s common to have low blood pressure as a result. While family caregivers may not be able to assess blood pressure, they can inquire during routine health care checkups and take note of the results. Chronic dehydration can lead to long-term illnesses and significant medical issues, such as kidney stones, sever constipation, stroke/aneurysm, and infection.
The good news is that dehydration in seniors is preventable. The best way to deal with dehydration is to do what you can do to avoid it. Here are some easy ways to keep your loved one properly hydrated.
- Encourage frequent drinks.
- Ask that they drink water “slow and steady” throughout the day.
- Require they drink a full glass of water with medications.
- Check the color of their urine.
o If it is light yellow, they are getting adequate fluids.
- Minimize alcohol and caffeine
o These drinks are diuretics, and they encourage urination and therefore deplete the body of valuable fluids.
- Increase fluids when sick.
- Exercise and water.
o If exercising regularly, increase water intake.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can help your loved one or yourself in staying adequately hydrated. At Yuma Senior Living we implement healthcare and nutritional programs to ensure all our residents stay as healthy as possible. If you are interested in learning more about our community, we encourage you to schedule an in-person visit with us. Simply give us a call at (928) 388-6858, and our Community Ambassador will schedule an onsite tour at your convenience.