Dehydration Can be Especially Dangerous for Seniors
With warmer weather finally making its way to us, it’s time to talk about a common but extremely serious topic that affects us all, but especially seniors — dehydration.
The human body is made of approximately 60 percent water, so when your fluid levels are too low, the body naturally suffers. If severely dehydrated, your body won’t have enough water to carry out its normal functions, and you may experience a range of symptoms, including weakness, dry mouth, exhaustion, dry skin, cramping, dizziness, nausea and potentially vomiting.
Increased thirst is the most obvious sign, but it’s not always present. More serious symptoms include low blood pressure, convulsions, bloated stomach, severe cramping, rapid but weak pulse, dry eyes, wrinkled skin with no elasticity and rapid breathing. Generally, dehydration occurs when you’re losing more water than you’re putting in.
Heat can be dangerous for seniors, since it leads to excessive sweating, so it’s best to be extra diligent during warmer weather. Carry a water bottle with you when you’re out, and remind mom and dad to drink on a regular schedule, rather than when they feel thirsty.
Why it’s more common in seniors
Since older adults possess a lower volume of water overall and often have health concerns or conditions like diabetes and medications that often act as diuretics, dehydration is a serious and common concern among the elderly. Aging itself also makes people less aware of thirst, and it becomes more difficult to regulate fluid balance as you get older, since kidneys do not work as efficiently. You simply lose more fluid more quickly.
If you’re younger, be careful not to compare your water levels with your aging loved one to determine if they are dehydrated — your body has more water in it, so you can afford to lose more and be okay.
What to do
If you loved one is suffering from mild dehydration, the answer is simple — get them to consume more fluids. Dehydration is a manageable condition, but it must be consistently monitored. Drinking fluids on a schedule, ensuring they have access to beverages they prefer, and not pushing them to consume a large amount all at once should help.
For more moderate levels of dehydration, water enhanced with electrolytes tends to be more helpful. Gatorade and coconut water are decent options if you’re short on time.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor. If dehydration is severe, seek medical assistance immediately— it’s possible they may need fluids intravenously. The most important thing is to not wait to act.
This information is provided by CarePatrol of Baltimore, a senior housing placement agency that serves the Baltimore city and county areas. If you or your loved one need to find a new home, consider talking to a CarePatrol housing placement specialist. They will sit down with you, assess your needs and financial situation, and offer the best options they can find. They are also available for tours and guidance during your final search. You can contact a specialist at (410) 844-0800, CarePatrolBaltimore@CarePatrol.com or www.carepatrolbaltimore.com. You can also find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CarePatrolBaltimore.