Simran Lakhina A content writer with a specialization in journalism and mass communication. Being a post-graduate in English, I aspire to write a work of fiction one day. I enjoy interacting with new people and like to be in a positive aura.

Dehydration In Older Adults: An Overlooked Health Risk

3 min read

dehydration in elderly people

‘One can live without anything but water and food.’ Drinking water is as essential as eating or breathing. But also, drinking plenty of water is equally important. Water scarcity in the body is called dehydration. 

Dehydration conditions can be harmful to the body, especially for the elder age group. Dehydration in older adults can not only make them ill but also triggers several other issues in the body. 

Here we are specifically going to tell you about how dangerous is dehydration in older adults. Any individual with the age of 60 or above, he/she needs special care, attention, and time. 

It is very important for the caregiver of an elderly person to know the importance of drinking a good amount of water and why is it so important.  

Causes of dehydration in older adults

Dehydration in any individual is partly due to inadequate water intake and so is the case in senior citizens. 

But there can be other possible reasons as well. In the age group of older adults, there are many unpredictable changes going on in the body so the following reasons are sometimes the reason for dehydration:

  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of blood
  • Diseases like diabetes or kidney problem.
  • Increased urination due to weak bladder

Age itself is the reason for declining thirst and an increase in the problem of dehydration. The body at an old age starts to lose the ability to manage fluids and so it needs extra care. 

Other major causes for dehydration are:

  • Loss of thirst: With an increase in age, the thirst level can deteriorate. Old people respond to thirst very slowly. This leads to less drinking of water and dehydration issues. 
  • Lower kidney functioning: As a person ages, kidneys stars to weaken too. Kidneys are not able to hold on to fluids for longer. This leads to very little consumption of fluids and hence results in dehydration.
  • Medications: A heavy percentage of elderly people rely on some medication or the other. Medicines for blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc. are a part of their everyday life. Such medicines sometimes may be diuretic or can cause excess sweating or urination. That could be a major cause of dehydration in elderly people. 
Symptoms of dehydration in older adults
Symptoms of dehydration in older adults

Symptoms of dehydration in older adults

The caregivers of elderly people must know the sign of dehydration in them. 

Mild dehydration symptoms include:

  • Dryness of the tongue or mouth
  • Inability to urinate or a small amount of urine
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Cramping in limbs
  • Headaches
  • Crying but with few or no tears
  • Weakness
  • Sleeplessness or irritability

Major symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Convulsion
  • Back and stomach pain
  • Bloated stomach
  • Rapid but weak pulse
  • Dry and sunken eyes
  • Dry and parched skin
  • Breathing faster than normal
  • Constipation
  • Confusion

These are the symptoms that indicate dehydration. Other than these, the caregiver of the elderly person can check by pulling the skin of the back of the hand for a few seconds and if it doesn’t come back to normal immediately then the old person is dehydrated and needs to drink water. 

Recovering from dehydration in elderly people

Here are a few tips for the caregivers of the elderly people to prevent and cure dehydration in their loved one:

  • Water, water, and lots of water: Water is what sustains life. An elder person should have a water bottle and a glass at their bedside. They must drink water in small amounts every half-hourly. Keeping a track of water consumption in old people is very important. 
  • Taking other watery fluids: If a person is not taking enough water then one can also give other things to ensure hydration. Fruits, vegetables, soups are a good alternative for maintaining fluid content in the body. 
  • Avoiding alcohol: An elder person must not consume alcohol or a heavy amount of caffeine. They have a diuretic effect and will lead to more water loss from the kidneys. 
dehydration in older adults

How dangerous is dehydration in elderly people?

Dehydration in seniors is a very common problem. Dehydration is not just a decrease in the levels of water in the body of an elderly person but triggers other problems as well:

  • Heat strokes: An old body gets weak with age. Less amount of water in the body can easily cause heatstroke. In summers, old people can faint due to excessive heat. Their body must have an adequate amount of liquid to balance out the hot weather. 
  • Urinary Tract Infection: Urinary tract infection is not just for young ones but can hit any age group. Old people usually complain of burning sensation in urine and the inability to pass urine. These are the symptoms of UTI which can only be cured by drinking a good amount of water. 
  • Kidney stones and kidney failure: Less water intake can lead to kidney stores in old people. It can be very hurtful and can lead to more c complicated situations like surgery. A study also reveals that kidney failure in senior citizens is major because of excessive dehydration.
  • Blood clot complication: Less intake of water can lead to the formation of blood clots in the blood and also thickening of the blood. Clots can also be formed in the brain and cause memory loss or any other brain-related issues. 
  • Seizers: A heavy percentage of old people have the problem of memory loss, change in behavior, movements, confusion, and unconsciousness. This problem of seizers is many times because of less intake of water. 
  • Fainting: Dehydrated old adults can faint due to dehydration. When their body don’t get enough water, it stops functioning. 

Water is life. To help keep your adults healthy and safe, it is very important for them to stay hydrated so their bodies can function adequately. If you have a senior citizen at home, encourage them to drink lots of water. 

One serious danger is that elderly people may not even know that their body is dehydrated and that leads to not being treated and other serious health consequences. So give your oldies lots of water, It will keep them active, healthy and sane. 

Simran Lakhina A content writer with a specialization in journalism and mass communication. Being a post-graduate in English, I aspire to write a work of fiction one day. I enjoy interacting with new people and like to be in a positive aura.

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