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The Truth About Dehydration in the Elderly Group

The Truth About Dehydration in the Elderly Group
Our body is composed of more than sixty percent of water. In order to keep our body to function properly, we need to stay hydrated. Unfortunately, many elders find this difficult to achieve. Several studies associate dehydration with increased mortality rates among the senior group. In fact, it is one of the causes why elders get hospitalized.

Intrinsic Home Care, Inc., a provider of Companion Care in Illinois, lays down some basic facts you should know about dehydration among elders.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water to perform its normal functions. It happens when the body consumes less fluid, yet uses or loses more fluid.

Why are elders more susceptible to dehydration?

There are a number of reasons why elders are more susceptible to dehydration. We summarize them as follows:

(a) Old Age
As we reach the age of seniority, we lose about six liters of water in our body. This is due to the fact that our body undergoes physiological changes as a natural part of aging such as:

  • We lose our sense of thirst. As a result, we drink less fluid.
  • Our kidneys find it difficult to maintain fluid balance.
  • Our appetite decreases. We also get fluid from solid food sources. Since we eat less, we also get less fluids from solid food sources.

(b) Medications
Many elders are prescribed with more than two medications a day. Some of these may cause elders to urinate or sweat excessively.

(c) Illness
Dehydration among elders may also arise from certain illnesses such as dehydration, vomiting, and diabetes.

(d) Psychosocial Reasons
An elder with Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to drink enough water without any assistance.

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

The symptoms of dehydration among seniors are sometimes overlooked. This is probably because people associate the symptoms as a natural part of old age. This can lead to far-reaching consequences. When dehydration is left untreated, its symptoms can worsen over time. Thus, it is imperative that you know how to identify its symptoms.

(a) Mild Dehydration

  • Dry mouth
  • Thirst
  • Dry skin
  • Decreased urination
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Cramping in the limbs
  • Fatigue

(b) Severe Dehydration

  • Sweating less
  • Severe muscle cramps
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased breathing
  • Confusion
  • Dry and sunken eyes
  • Unconscious
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Rapid and weak pulse

(c) Chronic Dehydration

  • Swelling in the brain
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Coma
  • Death

If you exhibit any of the above-mentioned symptoms for more than two days, you should call your doctor right away.

How can you avoid dehydration?

Daily hydration requirements vary from one person to another. However, healthcare professionals generally recommend that we drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. Here are a few tips to help you reach the goal:

  • Even if you are not feeling thirsty, drink small amounts of fluid throughout the day.
  • Avoid diuretic drinks.
  • You can get fluids from soups, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

You can also get Home Care Services at Intrinsic Home Care, Inc.

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