This winter, look out for dehydration in the senior citizens you know. Dehydration can be a serious problem for older adults, particularly those who live alone or have limited mobility or access to water. Even if your loved one is still in good health, you can take steps to ensure that they’re drinking enough water this winter season. In addition, when older people get sick, they often lose their appetite and thirst as well—a dangerous combination that can lead to severe dehydration. If you’re caring for a senior citizen this winter, assisted living in Bay Saint Louis MS, can help:
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration is when your body loses more fluid than it takes in. It can be caused by various factors, including illness, fever, and hot weather. However, dehydration can also be caused by not drinking enough water. A person can become severely dehydrated if they don’t drink enough fluids or have trouble absorbing liquids through the digestive system due to illness or injury.
The most obvious sign of dehydration is a dry mouth. As a person ages, their ability to sense the water level in their body decreases, and they may not even realize that they need more fluids. In addition to dryness in their mouths, other symptoms include:
- Confusion or delirium
- Muscle cramps (including those of the legs)
- Irritability or restlessness
- Weakness (in older adults, this can be mistaken for dementia)
Dehydration also has an effect on the organs inside your body. It can cause constipation because there’s less fluid around your digestive system to help move things along through peristalsis, which is the wave-like motion that food makes as it moves through your intestines. Dehydration makes it harder for nutrients from food to be absorbed into your bloodstream and sent out into the rest of your body; this can lead to slow healing after surgery or injury, decreased appetite, and weight loss (which may seem like another symptom), headaches and other symptoms associated with brain function like short-term memory loss or confusion.
Why Can’t The Elderly Drink Enough Water?
There are several reasons aging family members may not be able to drink enough water independently. Some of the most common include:
- Not feeling thirsty due to a reduced sense of thirst or problems with swallowing
- Not having access to water because they don’t have the means or ability to get up and go to the bathroom where it’s stored
- Having difficulty lifting a glass or bottle because of muscle weakness and poor coordination
Medications And Their Affect On How Much Water Seniors Need
Medications are a common culprit when it comes to dehydration. The medications most commonly linked with dehydration include:
- Antihypertensives, which help reduce blood pressure. These medications can cause an increase in urination and lead to fluid loss.
- Diuretics increase the amount of fluid removed from the body through urination and other bodily fluids.
- Psychotropic drugs (a type of medication used to treat mental disorders), like antidepressants and antipsychotics, may cause dry mouth, confusion, and decreased appetite (which can lead to less drinking).
How Assisted Living Benefits Seniors Through Preventing Dehydration
Assisted living is a safe and secure environment for family members in their golden years, who are often susceptible to dehydration. Many senior-friendly independent living communities have 24/7 team members who ensure their client’s well-being, including keeping track of daily water intake. In addition, many Retirement communities provide meal plans where meals are served in portions appropriate for each resident’s size and needs. This can help prevent dehydration by ensuring your loved one is consuming enough fluids to keep them hydrated throughout the day.
In addition to these benefits of assisted living, most communities also offer numerous activities and events that encourage hydration among their older residents—and this is something you will want to look into when choosing an assisted care community for your loved one.
As we get older, our bodies change. For some people, changes like these can lead to dehydration. If you or someone you love is aging in place, then it’s important to know how to prevent dehydration and keep yourself healthy.