Why dehydration is a serious health concern for seniors

Dehydration is unhealthy for anyone at any age, but it is especially common and very harmful to seniors. Our bodies need water to regulate their temperature, maintain blood pressure and eliminate waste. Without proper hydration, our bodies can become compromised.

If you’re caring for a senior loved one, it’s essential to know how to prevent, recognize and treat signs of dehydration.

Why are Seniors at Increased Risk?

As we age, our sense of thirst can decrease or seemingly disappear. Seniors don’t feel thirsty as often, so they tend to drink less water than they should. And those with dementia may need to be reminded to drink water.

As our bodies age, the kidneys can stop processing fluids properly, leading to more trips to the bathroom and a more significant loss of fluids. Common illnesses such as a cold, vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to dehydration.

Many seniors are unaware that dehydration is a common side effect of the medication they take for a health condition. Limited mobility also contributes to dehydration, as seniors who are frail or have difficulty moving on their own may be less likely to get water for themselves.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

The signs of dehydration aren’t always obvious and range from mild to severe.

Mild dehydration symptoms are:

  • Dry mouth or dry tongue
  • Dark or deep yellow urine or inability to urinate
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headaches
  • Crying with few or no tears
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Sleepiness

Severe dehydration symptoms are:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Convulsions
  • Severe cramping
  • Stomach bloating
  • Rapid yet weak pulse
  • Dry and sunken eyes
  • Wrinkled skin with no elasticity
  • Rapid breathing

What to Do If Your Senior Loved One is Dehydrated

Fortunately, mild dehydration is simple to treat by simply increasing their intake of fluids. If your senior loved one starts drinking more fluids, the dehydration will resolve itself within a few hours. However, in severe dehydration, the best thing to do is to seek medical attention.

If you’re concerned about your senior loved one’s ability to stay hydrated, or if you need any other help in improving their quality of life, get in touch with Aravilla Clearwater Memory Care today! We’re happy to explain the non-intrusive but critical ways we can monitor residents’ health status and daily patterns to protect their hydration, health and happiness each day!