The Risk Of Dehydration For Your Senior Is Greater Than You Realize.
Summer is here and in the Northeast that means hot, humid weather, the kind that can be a health risk for our seniors. Even if your loved one stays indoors during an excessive heat warning, they are at risk for heat stroke and exhaustion. A decrease in their ability to notice body temperature changes, health conditions that don’t allow them to adapt to heat as well, and medicines that contribute to dehydration are all contributing factors.
Another point of vulnerability for the elderly is dehydration and the risk is year-round. Sudden memory problems, agitation, confusion, delirium, even hallucinations can be caused by dehydration or a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). If dehydration is constant, severe health complications can be the result.
What causes dehydration?
- Medication: Check Patient Package Inserts (PPI), Medication Guides (MG), and Instructions for Use (IFU) for each of your senior’s prescriptions to look for dehydration as a side effect. If it is more than one, use food sources as a way of keeping them hydrated.
- Decreased thirst: As you age, your sense of thirst is less acute and the ability to move around easily decreases, making it less likely they will get up to get something to drink.
- Decreased kidney function: Losing kidney function is part of the aging process, and the result is our senior is less able to conserve fluids.
- Illness: An illness that results in vomiting and/or diarrhea.
What are the signs of dehydration?
- Blood pressure drops: Take notice if your loved one does not sweat or produce tears. Other signs include getting dizzy when moving from lying to sitting or quickly standing, complaints of a sticky mouth or tongue, and eyes may look sunken.
- Skin does not bounce back: If you gently pull skin on the back of your loved one’s hand, hold it for a few seconds and if does not bounce back within seconds, they may be dehydrated.
- Urine is discolored: Urine that is dark in color is a sign of dehydration. This can also signal other problems like a loss of kidney function, so bring it to the attention of their doctor.
- Confusion, disorientation and mood changes: dehydration is just one reason why your loved one may be showing these signs. Other physical symptoms include difficulty walking, dizziness and irritability.
What can help your senior’s dehydration?
- One way to monitor liquid intake is to number individual bottles of water, juice, or sports drinks. Lay out what you would like them to drink that day as a reminder. Sports drinks are a good alternative to water because they contain electrolytes which your body needs when you are dehydrated.
- Food is a great way to get liquid into loved ones that resist drinking. There are fruits with high water content like watermelon, apples, oranges, grapes, and any type of berry. Leafy green vegetables and carrots are another good source of fluid. You can also try soups, Jell-O, ice cream, yogurt, pudding, and cottage cheese.
- Make drinking easier for them by using a cup with a handle or a straw. If your loved one takes medication several times a day, have them drink a small glass of water each time they take their medication.
If your loved one lives alone, ensuring that they are eating food high in water content and they are drinking enough fluids is difficult. With the help of a Certified Home Health Aid, like those working for Springpoint at Home, you can rest assured that they are being carefully monitored for dehydration and other health concerns.