Why is hydration important?
Dehydration is a major cause of hospitalization and death in the elderly population. It can also cause other severe health problems like kidney stones, blood clot complications, passing out, rapid but weak pulse, urinary tract infections, and lowered blood pressure. In addition, being properly hydrated is also very important for certain medications to work. Some elderly folks don’t realize they are becoming dehydrated, and it can quickly become a serious problem. Dementia can contribute to an older person forgetting to drink water regularly.
How to detect and treat dehydration:
Some of the symptoms of dehydration in the elderly can be wrongly attributed to other causes besides dehydration. Be on the lookout for unusual confusion, impaired cognition, falling, and constipation. Because these symptoms can be caused by other ailments too, sometimes the dehydration goes unidentified.
Some of the most severe symptoms of dehydration include:
Little or no urination
Dark or amber-colored urine
Dry skin that stays folded when pinched
Irritability or dizziness
Rapid breathing and heartbeat
Cold hands and feet
Tips for keeping the elderly hydrated:
In addition to water, there are many other drinks that can help prevent dehydration. Some of these beverages include: coffee, tea, fruit juice, and sweetened beverages.
Savory fluids may appeal to some seniors. Try offering chicken, beef, or vegetable broth.
Don’t forget that fruits and vegetables also contain water and can provide hydration. Foods with a high water content include cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Smoothies, milkshakes, and sports drinks can also be appealing to some seniors.
Encourage the elderly to drink several times throughout the day.