Dehydration & Our Seniors
It’s warming up and you know what that means?! Picnics in the park, walks in the neighborhood, tea on the porch – there is much to look forward to in the summer season! It is good for our elderly loved ones to be outside, in the fresh air and underneath the blue sky! In fact, we encourage you to make sure that the seniors in your life are soaking up as much Vitamin D as they can! Why?! To boost energy and moods!
However, warmer weather and time outdoors can often lead to dehydration. It is important that we know what it is and how to prevent it happening in our lives and in the lives of our seniors. Dehydration occurs when water intake is not enough to replace the water in our bodies lost due to normal physiologic processes (e.g. breathing, urination or perspiration) or in cases of sickness (e.g. diarrhea or vomiting).
How do you know if dehydration (mild or otherwise) has set in?
Common symptoms of dehydration include thirst and neurological changes such as headaches, general discomfort, loss of appetite, decreased urine volume, confusion, unexplained tiredness, purple fingernails and even seizures. Most of our elderly experience many of these, but often they are already dehydrated due to a variety of reasons (most common: forgetting!).
So first response? Try amping up water intake!
How do you treat dehydration?
(In cases of severe dehydration, contact your doctor immediately!)
For mild dehydration, the treatment is pretty simple: increase water intake and decrease fluid loss. Use cool to warm water in order to drink in large amounts. Another way to offset dehydration is to up electrolyte intake – which you can find in a bowl of whole grain cereal, milk, yogurt, broccoli and bananas to start.
How do you prevent dehydration?
Drink water! On an average day, five 8 oz. glasses is a great standard for the elderly. Be sure to up that on days that are physically exerting or hotter than normal.
Encouraging your seniors to drink water can be difficult, so here are a couple ideas to help!
- Encourage small amounts of water throughout the day.
- Have their favorite – HEALTHY – fluids at each meal: water, milk, real juice.
- Decrease fluids that do not support dehyration: coffee, alcohol, soda, energy and sugary drinks.
- To combat the fear of incontinence, encourage more drinking during the day and not before bedtime.
Hope this helps your elderly loved ones enjoy their summertime!