Preventing Dehydration in the Elderly

With temperatures on the rise and summer just around the corner, it’s all too easy to forget the risk of dehydration in the elderly during those warmer temperatures. Before you jump right to grabbing an extra water bottle, we have some additional precautionary steps and ways to monitor dehydration to help you make the most of the summer sun without the risk.

As we age, several changes in the body can actually make the possibility of dehydration more likely to occur and harder to notice until it’s too late. Dehydration in elderly adults is more common than in younger people because older adults’ ability to conserve water reduces over time; simply put, they don’t get quite as much mileage as they once did out of the fluids they consume. Additionally, dehydration in the elderly can be more difficult to detect as their sense of thirst weakens with age. For those of us accustomed to knowing we need to drink some water in response to the simple sensation of being thirsty, this is especially problematic. Add to these factors the reality that many older adults regularly take medications with a diuretic effect, and it quickly becomes very clear why we need to keep a watchful eye for dehydration in the elderly.

Whether you’re out in the summer sun or a building without air conditioning, be on the lookout for common signs of dehydration in the elderly, including dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, increased heartrate, low blood pressure, and fatigue. Do not take dehydration lightly; complications can include cramps, heat exhaustion, seizures, hypovolemic shock, and other dangerous conditions.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent dehydration in the elderly, including talking to your doctor to see if a regularized hydration program is right for you. Otherwise, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet high fruits and vegetables, which are high in water content. Always be conscious of times when you’ll require extra fluids, like when you’re sick and both during and after exercise or periods of sweating. With an extra bit of attention, you can stay hydrated and healthy this summer, avoiding the potential danger of dehydration in the elderly.

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