Dehydration is a potentially serious condition that can occur when you don’t consume enough fluids for your body’s needs. This can lead to health complications ranging from mild to life-threatening, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), heat stroke, heart problems, kidney failure, and blood clot complications. Since dehydration affects the health of your cells, it can also lower your body’s ability to ward off infections and heal from injury or illness.
Why dehydration is more likely to affect older Adults?
According to the British Nutrition Foundation “Older people are vulnerable to dehydration due to physiological changes in the ageing process, but this can be complicated by many disease states, and mental and physical frailty that can further increase risk of dehydration”.
There are a couple of factors that increase the risk of this:
1: Appetite and thirst tend to diminish with age. This means that even when your body is craving fluids, you might not be aware of it—and you may drink less than you need to stay healthy.
2: Older adults experience body composition changes over time that leave them with less water in their bodies to start with.
3: Elderly people are more likely to take medications that increase dehydration risk.
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
Even mild dehydration can cause an array of uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms. Understanding the warning signs can help you take action before the situation becomes severe.
- Early dehydration symptoms include:
- Dark-coloured urine, urinating less frequently
- Fatigue, or feeling weak
- Irritability, Confusion, decreased cognitive function
- Headaches, dry mouth
The tiredness and lack of coordination that may result from dehydration can also lead to falls and injury. The best way to prevent dehydration is the simplest: drink more water throughout the day.
How much water do you need to stay hydrated as an older person?
You should try and aim for at least 6-8 glasses of fluid a day which is around 1.5-2 litres and there are simple steps you can take to ensure your body is getting what it needs. Below are some ideas to get you started:
Choose foods with high water content. If you have trouble drinking fluids, try including water-rich foods with every meal. These include cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes and celery. Soups, broths and stews are also a good way to boost your fluid intake, especially in the colder weather. If you’re watching your sodium, be sure to opt for low-sodium versions.
Keep water with you, always. Having hydration at your fingertips can make it easier to get the right amount of fluids. Carry a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go, or keep a lightweight water pitcher and cup near your favourite chair at home.
Avoid or reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it prompts your body to remove fluids from your bloodstream. Limiting alcoholic beverages can help your body hang on to more of the water it needs to thrive.
Change it up. Pure, clean water is the best way to stay hydrated. But let’s face it—drinking plain water all day can get boring! Try jazzing up your H2O by adding slices of fresh lemon, apple, cucumber or berries. You may also choose to switch up water with other options such as low-sugar sports drinks or protein and nutritional shakes specifically designed for seniors. Coffee and tea can have a slight dehydrating effect, so they should not be counted toward your daily fluid intake.
Build hydration into your daily routine. You could appoint a time of day where you know you’ll consume a glass of water for example when you wake up in the morning, after every meal, and before and after exercise or activity.
What is Live- in care and how can it help prevent dehydration in the elderly?
Live in care is when a care professional comes and lives with you in the comfort of your own home. You’ll receive greater support which will, in turn, ensure you are well cared for and safe at home. A care professional will help to run your household, provide personal care, home-cooked meals, hydration care and companionship. At GoodOaks this kind of support is carefully planned and we will visit you at home to talk in depth about your life, find out all about you and match you with the right care professional to make sure you’re happy and safe.