As we get older, the water content in our body decreases, meaning we need to drink more often. Older kidneys are also less efficient, so the urine contains more water. However, the sensation of thirst also decreases with age, creating a catch-22 situation. We need to drink more but are less likely to feel thirsty.
Medications can alter the balance of salt and water in our bodies, meaning we require more water. Blood pressure medications, for example, can cause more frequent urination. Other medications may cause loose stools or increased sweating. Vomiting and diarrhea also cause us to lose fluids rapidly.
What are the effects of dehydration?
For Seniors dehydration can lead to:
- urinary tract infections
- kidney stones
- more falls
- longer wound healing times
- hyperglycemia in diabetes patients
What does dehydration look like?
Dehydration can cause delirium and confusion in the elderly. As many people with dementia may suffer from these, also look for signs such as:
- changes in urine color
- skin dryness
- rapid, weak pulse
- dry mouth
- inability to sweat
What are the benefits of staying hydrated?
- Staying hydrated can mean a more independent life: With fewer falls, fainting or confused episodes, your loved one can remain in their own home or care home for longer and spend less time in the hospital.
- Staying hydrated can mean a more comfortable life: More fluid means less constipation and fewer UTIs.
- Staying hydrated can mean a longer life: Dehydration is fatal alone if undiagnosed. It can also cause other conditions to be more serious, such as diabetes and wound healing.
- If your loved one does need hospitalization, for any reason, being hydrated means a faster recovery time, fewer pressure ulcers and a better chance of not coming back to the hospital soon.
- Staying well-hydrated means a happier, healthier life!