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Dehydration in Older Adults

Dehydration. It’s something we often hear about during the hot summer southern months. So much so, that you may even stop taking the warnings seriously. But be careful to stay vigilant! Staying hydrated is critical to overall health, and could mean life or death to you or a loved one. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of dehydration and how to prevent it, keep reading.


What Is Dehydration And Who Is Most Affected?

According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and the body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. Dehydration can happen to anyone, but is most dangerous for the very young and the elderly.


As people age, sense of thirst often decreases, resulting in a “feeling” of not needing fluids. Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration due to kidney problems and medication side effects. Aging kidneys often stop processing fluids properly, which results in increased need to eliminate fluids. Senior adults may also take medication for other health concerns and may not be aware that dehydration is a side effect. It’s best to consult with a health care provider to discuss any and all potential side effects of medications so they can be addressed appropriately.


Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Because the signs and symptoms of dehydration can be similar to dementia, be attentive when caring for older adults.


Some of the most common symptoms of dehydration in older adults are:


  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion


Other signs and symptoms of dehydration that can be less common include:


  • Occurrences of excessive vomiting, urinating, loose stools or sweating during extreme heat that can mean loss of more fluids than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry or sticky mucous membranes in the mouth
  • Skin that lacks its normal elasticity
  • Decreased tear production


If you suspect dehydration of an older adult, seek immediate medical attention.


How to Prevent Dehydration

Dehydration can happen any time of the year. Being in the “know” about how to stay hydrated year-round is important, and drinking plenty of water is at the top of the list of how to prevent dehydration.


Here are some helpful tips to ensure proper hydration:


  • Talk to a doctor about the appropriate amount of water that should be consumed on a daily basis
  • Have a glass of water near a favorite chair or resting place for easy access
  • Add flavor or fruit to water to liven things up
  • Keep track of their intake in a notebook and keep it nearby


Sometimes it’s almost impossible to convince an older adult to drink more water, even if it’s flavored and sweet. When this problem is encountered, consider encouraging consumption of the following fruits and vegetables, which have high water content – applesauce, watermelon, cucumbers, grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, cooked asparagus, raspberries, blueberries, cooked broccoli or cauliflower.


The Traditions Difference

Relationships are the key focus in our communities. We care about each and every one of our residents and we have a well-qualified and attentive staff that is trained to spot any signs and symptoms of dehydration. Making the decision about assisted living can be an emotional one. When you choose Traditions Senior Living, you’re choosing an extension of your family. Call us today at (615) 591-8231 to learn more about what our communities have to offer.

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