Hydration is important since it helps in keeping the cardiovascular system healthy. Therefore, with proper hydration blood pressure and heart rate are positively controlled. Research shows that seniors are at a greater risk for chronic dehydration compared to younger adults. These are persons who require long-term care and therefore it is important for them to understand the importance of staying hydrated. So why are seniors at a higher risk of dehydration?
In this article, we seek to highlight some of the reasons why the cases of dehydration seem to rise among the seniors. Definitely, there are various causes that lead to dehydration among the seniors. Here are some of them.
Mobility Issues constrain them Leading to Extreme Thirst
One of the main reasons why dehydration is a problem among the seniors is because of the mobility challenges they are facing. When they are feeling thirsty, there might be no one around them to assist them to get some water. In other instances, they feel that they should not just request for assistance because the helper seems too busy on other duties. Therefore, they continue holding to their thirst until the body finds a natural way to adapt. Therefore, in the long run, the senior adult will become dehydrated since they can’t reach the water dispenser. So how can we help them overcome this issue?
The best approach for handling this challenge is ensuring there is a bottle of water next to the seniors throughout. Alternatively, after feeding the seniors, the caregiver should just give them some water instead of waiting for them to ask for water. Through these approaches, the mobility issue will have been addressed appropriately.
Chronic Diseases placing them at a Risk of Dehydration
Diabetes and severe acute diarrhea are a common cause of dehydration among the seniors. Acute diarrhea is common among the seniors and often appears suddenly and violently. Therefore in some instances, there is no one around to assist the seniors to stay hydrated. In other instances, they are not comfortable mentioning that they are experiencing diarrhea. Being a severe and violent diarrhea case, chances of getting dehydrated are very high and this occurs within a very short period of time. Seniors should be taught to take more water when experiencing acute diarrhea or vomiting. In addition, water should also be kept within their reach to ensure they can help themselves whenever they need.
Uncontrolled diabetes is also another cause of dehydration. This is not only for the seniors. Even the younger adults living with diabetes condition are at a high risk of becoming dehydrated. This is because the high blood glucose levels reduce hydration in bodies. Therefore, this leads to dehydration if the high blood glucose levels are not controlled. Persons with this type of diabetes should be encouraged to increase their water intake. Caregivers should encourage diabetic seniors to increase fluid intake so as to help reduce the chances of getting dehydrated.
Seniors with Memory Issue Might Not Remember to Take Water
Another challenge that the seniors struggle with often is memory loss. This occurs with old age and leads to seniors forgetting too much. For instance, due to dementia seniors might forget to take water when and as they should. Therefore, it is important for the seniors to have helpers around them if they are experiencing memory loss. The helper should try as much as possible to ensure the seniors are taking water when and s they should. Don’t just assume that the seniors will ask for water when they feel thirsty. Keep water within their visibility to help them remember they need to take some. Before and after every meal, give them a glass of water even if they didn’t ask for water.
Voluntarily Limiting the Water Intake to Avoid Using the Bathroom Too Often
In other cases, the seniors will refuse to take water because they are afraid to be seen visiting the bathroom too often. This is mostly when they are in a new place or while traveling. When traveling with adults, ensure you make regular stops for them to relieve themselves. In addition, when they are visiting friends and families let them have private bathrooms where they will be comfortable visiting. This will help to ensure they take adequate fluids. As a result, they will stay hydrated throughout.
Kidney Decline and Less Sensation to Thirst
From the age of 50 onwards, seniors experience kidney decline. This continues becoming serious as they approach 65 years. Therefore, the body has less ability to remove toxins from the blood. Therefore, since the kidneys are not concentrating urine as best as they should, we start losing water from the body as we age.
Therefore, adults should be encouraged to take more water and be educated about the functions that their bodies will not perform as expected as in the case of kidney decline. When they understand this, then they can see the importance of taking water.
Another common cause of dehydration due to changes in the body is losing the thirst sensation. In old age, people lose the sensation of being thirsty and become dehydrated as a result. In this regard seniors should be encouraged to take water often even without feeling thirsty.
Medication Causing Dehydration
Laxatives, diuretics and angiotensin-converting enzyme cause dehydration. This is the reason why doctors encourage patients taking these drugs to increase their fluid intake. In addition, seniors are often taking different types of medication and these cause them to become dehydrated.
Dehydration can lead to serious consequences among the adults. Some of the reported cases lead to swelling of the brain, seizures, low blood volume shock, kidney failure and heart injury and in some cases leads to Coma and death. Therefore, seniors ought to increase their water intake to avoid dehydration. Some adults might not be motivated to take plain water. Therefore, it is important for the caregiver to consider catering for their preferences by adding some juice to the water. Remember that fluids with diuretic effect should be avoided.
Caregivers should also be encouraged to keep monitoring the seniors to ensure they are hydrated. This is by observing for the following common signs of dehydration.
- Dry and Sticky Mouth
- Feeling Thirsty often
- Dry skin
- Irritability and confusion
- Sunken eyes
- Dizziness or headaches
- Not Sweating
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
Therefore, whenever the above signs are seen in seniors, it is possible that the adult is dehydrated. Encourage them to take more fluids and preferably water. If symptoms persist, call the doctor.