Your health during this hot season depends on being properly hydrated.
Humans are Mostly Water
Every body cell requires water to function. The human body is comprised of approximately 60% water. Brains and hearts are roughly 73% water and 83% of lungs are water. Muscles and kidneys are about 79%. All these organs are held within the skin, which is 64% water and supported by bones which are about 33% water.
Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration occurs when the outflow of water is more than the intake. A decrease in water content as we age is normal. Profuse sweating, loss of efficient kidney function and more urine output accentuate the need to hydrate more often. As we age our sense of thirst also decreases and there is a good chance we may become dehydrated with no sense of being thirsty.
Salt (potassium) and water levels in bodies may be altered by medications. Frequent urination, loose stools or increased sweating could occur and cause a loss of water.
It is important to replenish fluid supplies. When caring for an elderly person be cognitive of how much liquid they are drinking. Fluid intake for a loved one is critical, especially during times of extreme heat.
Typical signs of dehydration are:
- Difficulty walking
- Dizziness or headaches
- Dry mouth
- Inability to produce tears or sweat
- Low blood pressure
- Low urine output
- Rapid heart rate
- Sunken eyes
The side effects of certain medications and diagnoses may also present these symptoms and make it difficult to know if an elderly person is experiencing dehydration. Look for a decrease in skin turgor as a first sign. Gently pull up the skin on the back of a hand for a few seconds. Skin should return to normal within a few seconds after the hold is released. If it does not, the person is dehydrated.
Treat dehydration before it becomes serious. Complications of dehydration include:
- Hyperglycemia in diabetes patients
- Increased falling
- Kidney stones
- Longer time for wounds to heal
- Urinary tract infections.
Staying hydrated is vital for seniors.
Hydration Includes More Than Water
Drinking plenty of water without additives is certainly a priority for hydration. However, there are many sources for fluids other than water. Several foods contain high levels of water, especially fruits and vegetables. Consider the following to aid with hydration:
- citrus fruits: oranges, mandarins, grapefruit
- cottage cheese
- gelatin desserts like Jell-O
- ice cream
- melons, all types
- peaches and other stone fruit
Helping Elderly Stay Hydrated
If your loved one is drinking less water than usual, discover the reasons. Dementia patients are not always able to express what they are feeling or wanting to have. People change drinking habits for many reasons… illness, depression, anxiety, forgetfulness or pain. The underlying cause needs to be identified and addressed.
Help your loved stay hydrated by making sure choices are available and within reach. Offer variety with foods and beverages but avoid sugary sodas and juices. Remember coffee and teas may act as diuretics and hinder hydration if drank too often. Always offer water-rich foods at mealtime and for snacks.
Bridge to Better Living provides a variety of resources to make a transition to a Retirement or Senior Living Option. If you have questions or find the search for appropriate living confusing, give us a call. Bridge to Better Living believes in Quality of Life and wants you to enjoy each day. Call Bridge to Better Living. We have a cold drink of water waiting for you.