Senior Citizens and Hydration vs. Dehydration

When the sun begins to shine and families begin to spend more time outside, family safety becomes a priority. With the heat, another precaution that arises is senior citizens and staying hydrated while engaging in outside, summer activities with family or friends.

Dehydration in seniors is defined as an excessive loss of body fluid or simply the lack of water in an individual. Most people know the basic definition of what it means to be dehydrated. However, what many do not know is that there are three main types of dehydration in seniors.

Prevention of Dehydration in Seniors

There is hypotonic dehydration or the loss the electrolytes, specifically the loss of sodium. Hypertonic dehydration is another form of dehydration where a person experiences a loss of water. The most commonly known form of dehydration is isotonic dehydration. This commonly seen type of dehydration can cause hypervolemia or the state of decreased blood volume and decreased volume of blood plasma.

Being aware of these types of dehydration, can help you develop the intuition to foresee dehydration before it reaches emergency level.

The reason dehydration goes unnoticed until it reaches emergency level many times is because it develops so gradually over time. It can take hours for the dehydration to affect the body. Since many of the early, preventable or simply treated symptoms go undetected; this causes the dehydration to reach that emergency level before being treated.

Causes of Dehydration

Decreased sense of thirst

As the body ages it loses important signal abilities that otherwise would self-regulate a need for fluids.

  • Attempting to go to the bathroom less

Many older adults are embarrassed by an excessive need to go to the bathroom. To avoid having to go to the bathroom less, they drink less. This is attempting to live in a “less in->less out” philosophy. This avoidance strategy can backfire because it can make one dangerously ill from dehydration.

  • Contributions to dehydration

There are a few other illnesses that can contribute to dehydration. Some of these illnesses can include: diarrhea, vomiting, fever or an infection.

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Headache
  • Dark, smelly urine
  • Fainting

Dehydration Prevention

Prevention methods are simple: drink an adequate amount of water. While it can be tiresome for an elder adult to consistently drink water, especially with a decrease sense of thirst, there are other means of maintaining liquid intake. One option is to have a diet of liquid rich foods. Fruits and vegetables are 80% water and therefore, can help keep an individual hydrated.

**This article was written with the aid of the following sites:**