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Dehydration in Seniors

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Dehydration Isn’t Just a Summer Problem

A recent article reported that seniors are five times more likely to be suffering from dehydration when coming from a nursing home to a hospital for a health issue. The biggest reason for this problem of senior dehydration was that those in the home were thought to be given less to drink so workers didn’t have to get them up and take them to the bathroom through the night.

It is extremely important that seniors keep hydrated at all times. While many may think that this is a problem we face only in the hot summer months, it is important to make sure the elderly are getting enough water and hydration throughout the day in every season.

You may recall an article in the Baltimore Sun discussing the importance of keeping the elderly hydrated. In this article they mentioned that there are a few reasons why seniors are prone to dehydration.

  • Medication – Many medications that seniors take will have diuretics in them for control of heart problems, water retention problems, and sometimes as a side effect of the some medications.
  • Decreased Mobility – Often seniors will have decreased mobility which will make it so they simply can’t get up enough or move around easily enough to continuously get liquids in them on a regular basis.
  • Forgetfulness – Many times seniors will simply forget to get a drink. Because they may not be as active or, in some cases have some dementia problems, they may forget if they’ve drank or even forget to get a drink.

Dehydration and Health Problems

It’s important to stay hydrated because dehydration can cause many health issues:

  • Problems with Blood Pressure
  • Kidney Stones
  • Changes in Heart Rate
  • Fatigue
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Dry Skin, itching & lesions
  • Confusion
  • Weakness

The important thing to remember is that water is not the only form of hydrating the body. It’s important that a glass of water is left near them and refreshed often for them to sip on as they are relaxing or sitting each day; however certain foods can also help to keep them hydrated. Remember, many “drinks” can help actually lead to dehydration also; caffeinated beverages and alcohol can act as diuretics.

One of the benefits of having an in-home caregiver with your senior loved one is that things like keeping them from dehydration is a part of their everyday routine. A well trained caregiver will know that it is important that seniors not only have drinks at their reach continuously but can make sure they are eating foods that help to keep them hydrated too.

It is also a well known fact that those who suffer from dementia and/or Alzheimer’s who experience urinary tract infections (more common in females) will tend to regress. In most cases the regression will cause some type of permanent deterioration in their mental health status and while they may recover some, it is rare that they come back to where they were before the time of the UTI.

 


Photo by lollipolluza