Signs & Symptoms of Dehydration in Seniors

During the warmest time of year, maintaining correct hydration is essential, especially for seniors. As a matter of fact, nearly 1/2 of all seniors are chronically under-hydrated, as outlined by a newly released UCLA research study, which could bring on multiple health risks, such as kidney stones, urinary tract infection, and in some cases a higher risk for falls.

The prevalence of dehydration in seniors is associated with a variety of factors, such as:

  • A decreased level of water naturally occurring in aging bodies
  • Medication side effects
  • Less awareness of the sensation of thirst
  • A reduced capacity to maintain a proper fluid level balance within the body
  • Decreased efficiency of the kidneys
  • And more

There is a basic calculation to establish how much water an older adult should drink each day. Take the person’s body weight in pounds, and drink one-third that many ounces of water daily. Someone who weighs 120 pounds, for example, ought to drink at minimum 40 ounces of water – about five 8-ounce glasses.

Time is critical in ensuring hydration in seniors, as it’s much easier to correct mild dehydration before it gets to be more severe. Signs and symptoms of dehydration in seniors include:

Minor Dehydration:

  • Decreased, darker-colored urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Muscle cramping
  • Irritability
  • Headaches

Severe Dehydration:

  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Difficulty with walking
  • Weak, fast pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Intensifying of muscle cramps
  • Sunken, dry eyes
  • Skin that is wrinkled and has reduced elasticity
  • Bloating
  • Quickened breathing
  • Convulsions

Seek medical assistance promptly should you suspect dehydration in a senior, to prevent severe health complications which may develop rapidly.

In the event the older adult resists drinking enough water, try flavoring the water or offering juice, if it is an appropriate part of the older adult’s dietary plan. For those with conditions such as diabetes or obesity, the sugar content in juice may be unsafe. In some cases, adjusting the temperature of the beverage helps it to be more pleasing as well, such as heating up a cup of water along with a little lemon to sip on each morning, and then offering cold water over crushed ice during the afternoon.

The important thing is always to have fluids available ongoing throughout the day. Geriatric nurse Anne Vanderbilt, CNS, explains, “What I often see in our advanced older adults – people in their 80s and 90s – is that they can’t sit down and drink a full 8-ounce glass of water. It fills them up, causes bloating and then makes them have to run to the bathroom. So little sips throughout the day are better.”

In order to help ensure the seniors you love are staying hydrated and healthy, partner with Inspired Home Care for professional elder care in Algonquin. Our caregivers are readily available to help supervise fluid intake, prepare wholesome meals, motivate older adults to continue to be physically active, and more for optimal wellbeing. Contact us at 847-787-7572 for a free in-home assessment and to learn more about our top-rated elder care in Algonquin and the surrounding communities.