Dehydration could be a significant problem for anyone who doesn’t have the habit to drink water at regular intervals. Dehydration mostly occurs when the body doesn’t get the required amount of water to sustain its physical activities. Water is lost through sweat, tears, urine, vomiting, etc from the body but the amount lost should be in proportion to the water intake. Dehydration can also happen due to a number of factors like climate, level of physical activity and nutrition diet. One other thing to keep in mind is that dehydration can reduce the amount of blood in the body putting excessive strain on the heart to cause shock. These body shocks can lead to a decrease in blood pressure.
As senior citizens age, they are more susceptible to dehydration problems. Lower fluid content in the body leads to decreased thirst response and also underlying medications or health conditions can lead to dehydration in seniors. Symptoms like dry mouth, fatigue, dark-colored urine, and lightheadedness are a sign to get back those bodily lost fluids.
Dehydration can lead to several risk factors later on in life. With Covid 19 on the rise, understanding the risk factors and recognizing them can lower the risk for dehydration since seniors over 60 are prone to suffer from dehydration.
- Being bedridden
- Diarrhea, vomiting or excessive sweating
- Having 5 or more chronic diseases
- Diminished drinking due to fear of incontinence
- Swallowing disorders caused by stroke, Parkinson’s disease or dementia
Dehydration is preventable. While the amount of water an adult needs each day varies according to weight, fitness and individual body needs, the average person requires about 4-6 litres of water a day. Here are some simple steps recommended as the proper senior care for dehydration:
- Consider foods rich in fluid: It’s not always about drinking water. Foods and beverages like tea, fruit juice, fruits, and vegetables are composed of water too. Allow senior citizens to consume these foods to boost immune health and get those lost fluids back into the body. Remember to speak to the doctor first before making changes in diet consumption. Try serving more foods with high water content like watermelon, cucumbers, celery, strawberries to increase hydration without drinking fluids.
- Check medication that can cause loss of fluids: It is important to check the information sheets that accompany prescriptions and talk to the physician regarding medications that can make seniors dehydrated. Remember to drink plenty of water when using certain over the counter medications such as stool softeners or laxatives. Many blood pressure medications are diuretics, so seniors should increase their fluid intake to maintain health.
- Make sure water is available for frequent sips: Drinking small amounts of fluids throughout the day rather than drinking large amounts all at once is good for health. Frequent sipping by having fresh water available near your favorite chair throughout the day or maybe at your bedside during the evening is recommended. A great way to keep water refreshingly cold and promote hydration is by having them inside insulated mugs to drink whenever they feel thirsty.
- Set up reminders for hydration: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Encourage seniors to calculate and make a note of the time when they feel thirsty. Start observing to set up reminders to alert yourself regarding water intake. Keep track of how much water you drink daily, how much should you drink, etc through these reminders. You can even download various apps that can help identify more detailed hydration tips and reminders.
- Frequently monitor body signs: Body weight is a good way to keep track of hydration levels. Encourage seniors to step on the bathroom scale each morning. If they lost two pounds or more from the day before and have a headache, chances may be due to dehydration. Mild dehydration involves losing 2 percent of your body weight. Severe dehydration involves a 4 percent or greater loss. Also, encourage your family member to check their urine color on a regular basis. A well-hydrated person’s urine should be light in color.
The above-mentioned tips can surely benefit seniors with good health and prevent dehydration. Senior retirement communities like The Chennai Homes Aishwaryam ensure that the residents are always under proper medical facilities. Our palliative care makes sure you are comforted by experienced caretakers who attend to all your needs. The doctors and nurses are available 24×7 for medical support during any emergency. A homely atmosphere is encouraged in the community where you get diet-specific food too. Call us today at +91 91766 77770 to know more about our senior-friendly community.