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A Guide to Hydration & Senior Health

By Jonathan Wells, 8:00 am on

A large portion of the human body is comprised of water, but did you know that the younger a person is, the higher the percentage of water they contain? As a result, dehydration becomes an increased risk as people age, and dehydrated seniors can become seriously ill if they are not quickly and properly treated.

Factors That Precipitate Dehydration

It is a normal part of the aging process to experience a decrease in sensations. For many seniors, thirst is often not readily perceived and drinking water regularly is therefore skipped. Other factors that could be contributing to a senior’s dehydration include, but are not limited to:

  • Medications – Seniors may also be taking life-saving diuretics that can cause dehydration
  • Health Issues – Decreased kidney function and poorly controlled diabetes can contribute to fluid loss
  • Side Effects of Chronic Conditions – Difficulty in swallowing as is seen in Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative disorders can make drinking water difficult

Symptoms of Fluid Loss 

If you provide hourly or live-in care for an aging parent or loved one, there are certain symptoms that may indicate dehydration. Urine that appears dark orange is often the first sign, along with dry skin that does not readily spring back when pulled, exhaustion, dizziness and confusion. Severe fluid loss can result in nausea and vomiting and loss of consciousness.

Staying Hydrated

For several years, the population has been pushed by the media to drink eight glasses of water per day. In reality, eight glasses a day for some individuals, especially seniors, can be dangerous. People require varying amounts of water throughout the day according to their ages and activity levels. A petite, elderly lady with congestive heart failure could go into a medical crisis after drinking excessive fluid amounts. It is important to consult with your loved one’s doctor to determine the amount of water that is safe and will promote health.

Drinking Smart

Water is the best liquid to drink to keep hydrated. Many seniors sip coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages throughout the day not realizing that caffeine has a tendency to cause dehydration. Caffeinated drinks should be enjoyed in small to moderate amounts, and water should be a senior’s main source of hydration.

Checking-In

Even in the winter months, it’s important to make sure that your aging parent or loved one maintains their hydration. Whether that means checking in on them more regularly, or hiring a part-time caregiver in Douglas County to lend a helping hand, hydration is key to ensuring your loved one’s health and wellness.

To learn more about senior health, visit our website at www.douglascountyhomecareassistance.com or call a friendly Care Manager at 720-441-3522 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.