It is August in Florida and it is HOT! Dehydration can become a problem. Did you know that seniors are at higher risk for dehydration than younger people? As we age, we lose water in our bodies, so we have less water to begin with. Dehydration can be subtle, especially in the elderly, but it can cause big problems. Severe dehydration can lead to confusion, urinary tract infections, weakness and pneumonia among other conditions.
Some of the symptoms of dehydration in the elderly are muscle weakness, lethargy, headaches, dizziness, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and fatigue. In most mild cases, drinking water or even tea can help perk you up after about 5-10 minutes. More moderate cases require IV fluids and a visit to the emergency room. Severe cases may require a longer hospitalization.
We have all heard that old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In the case of dehydration, prevention is a whole lot easier than a trip to the hospital. Drinking water and electrolytes (Gatorade and other sports drinks) can take up to 36 hours to fully rehydrate. Some suggestions for preventing dehydration in the elderly are drinking fluids throughout the day instead of large amounts all at once, eating foods high in water (watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, celery, peaches, strawberries, etc…), avoiding caffeine, sugary drinks and alcohol, and eat a healthy diet.
One of the many things our caregivers do is encourage hydration and monitor for adequate intake. Please call us if your loved one could use a little extra motivation, we're here to help!