Dehydration occurs when a person loses more fluid than they bring in. If a body doesn’t have enough water in its system, it can’t carry out normal functions.
It’s especially important that seniors pay attention to hydration because a lack of fluids can lead to things like delirium, infections, or worse.
How much water do you need?
There are a lot of factors that go into determining how much water a body needs, such as gender, weight, and body fat. Bodies in motion need more than bodies at rest.
As we age, our bodies tend to hold less water. Even sitting can drain a body of much needed fluids quickly. That is why seniors inevitably have more problems with dehydration.
Older adults also lose their perception of thirst. When dehydration sets in for us, we quickly become parched. Not so with seniors, so they might not know they need an intake of fluids until the signs of dehydration set in.
Compound this with mobility issues. If a senior has trouble getting up – or simply can’t – they might not ask for water. They may also put aside thirst issues to avoid more frequent bathroom trips.
The signs and symptoms of dehydration worsen over time. But because a person can go through these stages rapidly, it’s important to stop them as soon as possible.
Mild dehydration symptoms include:
- A dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Decreased urination
Severe dehydration symptoms include:
- Lack of sweating
- Severe muscle cramps
- Low blood pressure
- Dry eyes, no tears
- Wrinkled skin
- Rapid but weak pulse
With chronic dehydration, a person may suffer seizures, kidney failure, a coma, or eventually death.
If your loved one is in the hospital, in rehabilitation, or other health center, they may be even more at risk. Their levels of energy usage may be up fighting off health issues, even if they are lying in bed. And when they can’t ask for water, or don’t want water for fear of having to get out of bed more, the problem compounds quickly.
As a caregiver, monitor intake levels. You can encourage frequent drinking in moderate amounts by keeping water easily accessible at all times. You may also introduce fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon to stay hydrated.