Getting enough fluids is a big problem for majority of seniors and the results have numerous negative affects on their health and well-being. If you're caring for an older loved one, you need to be aware of the symptoms of dehydration before you end up at the emergency room.
Symptoms of Dehydration in Elderly
Knowing the signs of dehydration in elderly is very important to help prevent it. According to WebMD, the signs of dehydration are: Confusion, Dark-colored urine, Dizziness, Fatigue, Headache, Muscle cramps, Nausea, Pale skin, Rapid heartbeat and Constipation
Experts have found that 48 percent of seniors hospitalized via the emergency room are diagnosed with dehydration. That is an alarming statistic, so we need to be aware of why our elders are not getting enough fluids. Since dehydration can cause confusion, fatigue, muscle cramps and dizziness, the likelihood of a fall increases dramatically. Just a little insight can keep us aware of our loved ones' fluid intake.
As we age, we just don't feel as thirsty as we did when we were younger. Sometimes our kidneys aren't functioning well and that effects how thirsty we feel. For elders with incontinence, they fear getting to the bathroom on time. They self-restrict their fluid intake to avoid accidents, while some elders have mobility problems, so getting themselves something to drink and then having to go the bathroom is a struggle they avoid. Others take medications that increase urination, yet they don't compensate by drinking more fluids. If the elder has diminished strength in their hands, or have trouble holding onto a glass, they try to avoid drinking.
Preventing Dehydration in Elderly
My own father is very susceptible to dehydration. He lost his bladder to cancer which compromises his kidneys, so drinking enough water became a big priority in his life. Here are some ways to help your senior loved ones get enough water and stay out of the emergency room.
- Get a good water container. I've bought my father a number of the cylinder shaped water bottles with a good straw on the lid. He doesn't have to worry about spilling and can easily carry it anywhere. While relaxing, he keeps it right next to his easy chair.
- Offer your senior something to drink before each meal, and every two hours in-between meals. Try to keep most beverages just water, but include decaffeinated teas and coffee, and some fruit juice to break up the monotony. Avoid alcoholic beverages and carbonated drinks which can further dehydrate.
- Many foods have high water content, including many fruits and vegetables. Serving your senior soup can also add to their hydration. Just don't over salt. Many ready to eat soups are available with lower sodium.
- Make sure they take water with them whenever they go out. Let them know that you'll be on the lookout for bathroom facilities, no matter where you go.
- Keep a water bottle next to their bed.
We all need a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day, but the elderly should get more.
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About The Author: Karen Everett Watson is a Gerontologist and has over 10 years experience as a Journalist. Karen has spent 4 years in the senior community interviewing retirement community residents and wrtites articles for SeniorCareHomes.com, a comprehensive Assisted Living online directory, trusted by seniors and families. SeniorCareHomes.com also provides free placement services to help Seniors and their families find assisted living based on the senior's care needs, family's budget and location.
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