Dehydration happens when a person loses more fluids than they replace. Some of the ways fluids may be lost are through sweating, vomiting, and urinating. Fluids are necessary for the body to carry out many of its normal functions. Although dehydration can occur in anyone, older adults are among the groups that are at highest risk. Seniors can become dehydrated because of mild illnesses and when the weather is hot. Knowing the signs of dehydration is important since treating it early can prevent serious complications from occurring.
What Can Cause Dehydration?
Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration because the fluid levels of their body is naturally lower because of the aging process. They don’t feel thirst as acutely as younger people do, so it’s easier for them to overlook the need for a drink. In addition, they may not be able to get up and get their own drinks because of mobility problems. Or, they may avoid drinking because it makes them have to urinate and getting to the bathroom on time can be difficult.
In addition to the issues posed by aging, older adults may become hydrated for some of the same reasons younger people do, such as:
- Diarrhea or Vomiting: When a person vomits or has diarrhea, the body loses more fluid than normal. Both can cause rapid fluid loss and the loss of electrolytes.
- Fever: Fever causes a loss of fluid and the higher the fever is, the more fluid is lost.
- Sweating: Sweating causes the body to lose liquids, so when your parent sweats because of hot weather or vigorous activity, they’ll need to drink more to prevent dehydration.
- Urinating More: Having diabetes that is not controlled or that has not been diagnosed causes more frequent urination. In addition, some medicines can also cause a person to urinate more, such as diuretics.
What Signs Should You Watch For?
Although being thirsty is certainly an indicator that your parent needs liquids, waiting for a senior to feel thirsty may not prevent dehydration because they don’t feel thirst the way younger people do. Some other signs to watch for that indicate dehydration are:
- Not urinating as often.
- Urine that looks dark in color.
If you notice signs of dehydration, take steps to treat it immediately. If your parent has diarrhea that lasts longer than a day, seems disoriented or fatigued, cannot keep liquids down, or has stool that appears black or bloody, they should see a doctor.
Senior care can prevent your parent from becoming dehydrated. A senior care provider can remind the older adult to drink more liquids. Senior care providers can prepare the drinks and bring them to the older adult, too. In addition, a senior care provider can prepare foods that have higher liquid contents, such as fruits, soups, or smoothies.
If you are considering senior care in Alexandria, VA, for an elderly loved one, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers Home Care in Leesburg. (703) 297-4642.