Active seniors are more at risk for becoming dehydrated for many reasons. For instance, you can have imbalances in your fluid and electrolytes, or your sense of thirst can diminish due to prescribed medications. It is important to make sure that you are staying hydrated, especially in the warmer months of the year when it is even easier to become overheated and dehydrated.
What is dehydration and what causes it?
Dehydration means the body doesn’t have as much fluid within the cells and blood vessels as it should.
Normally, the body constantly gains fluid through what we eat and drink, and loses fluid through urination, sweating, and other bodily functions. But if we keep losing more fluid than we take in, we can become dehydrated.
If a person starts to become dehydrated, the body is designed to signal thirst to the brain. The kidneys are also supposed to start concentrating the urine, so that less water is lost that way.
Why are older adults at higher risk for dehydration?
Unfortunately, the body’s mechanisms meant to protect us from dehydration work less well as we age. Older adults have reduced thirst signals and also become less able to concentrate their urine.
Other factors that put older adults at risk include:
- Chronic problems with urinary continence, which can make older adults reluctant to drink a lot of fluids
- Memory problems, which can cause older adults to forget to drink often, or forget to ask others for something to drink
- Mobility problems, which can make it harder for older adults to get something to drink.
- Living in nursing homes, because access to fluids often depends on the availability and attentiveness of staff
- Swallowing difficulties
Dehydration can also be brought on by an acute illness or other event. Vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and infection are all problems that can cause people to lose a lot of fluid and become dehydrated. And of course, hot weather always increases the risk of dehydration.
Last but not least, older adults are more likely to be taking medications that increase the risk of dehydration, such as diuretic medications, which are often prescribed to treat high blood pressure or heart failure.
Signs of Dehydration
There are signs and symptoms that can represent dehydration, and if you notice any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider or seek immediate medical assistance.
- Muscle cramps
- Dry skin
- Dark Urine Color
Ways to Stay Hydrated
To make sure you stay hydrated, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Because our bodies are 60 percent water, it makes sense to drink as much water as possible. But sometimes this can lack nutrition and flavor. There are many water enhancers available in stores, or you can create fruit-infused water. You can also stay hydrated and healthy by drinking broths (chicken, vegetable, or beef) and by eating hydrating foods.
Popular hydrating foods are foods that are made up of at least 80 percent water, some of which include:
- Bell Pepper
At Silverstone Living, our At Home By Hunt program can provide you with the education and support you need to stay healthy and hydrated in the warm months—and year round. Our care coordinators will work with you to maintain your independence at home.
For more information on how our continuing care at home program can ensure you are staying well and able to age in place, contact At Home By Hunt, part of the Silverstone Living family, today.