Dehydration

by Lois Etienne on June 29, 2013

in Lifestyle,Senior Health and Safety

Give Glass of WaterAccording to at least one study, dehydration is at least partially responsible for up to 48 percent of senior hospitalizations. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to severe cramping and muscle contractions, convulsions and even death.

Seniors are particularly sensitive to dehydration for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • Decreased ability to feel thirst: Believe it or not, the ability to be aware of and respond to thirst decreases as we age so seniors may not realize that they need to hydrate until it’s too late.
  • Lower kidney function: The kidneys’ ability to remove toxins from the blood also declines with age. This means the kidneys are not as efficient in concentrating urine in less water, thus seniors tend to lose more water more quickly.
  • Medications: Certain common medications for seniors, including diuretics, chemotherapy drugs and blood pressure medications, are major culprits for dehydration and related symptoms.
  • Fear of Night Falls: Seniors with mobility issues may avoid drinking water because they are afraid of falling while getting up at night to use the bathroom.

Some important things to look out for are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness
  • Fainting
  • Inability to sweat
  • Decreased urine output
  • Deeply concentrated, dark yellow urine
  • Vomiting or dry heaves

If you suspect dehydration, call your senior’s doctor to alert them to the situation. Also, encourage your senior to drink small amounts of water, suck on ice chips or sip a drink with electrolytes like Gatorade or Pedialyte.

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