Water is one of the most important substances for our body. Our bodies are, after all, 60% water.
Thus, dehydration poses risks for all age groups — but it’s especially dangerous for seniors.
To make sure you and your loved ones are safe in high temperatures, watch out for these dehydration symptoms.
Why Are Seniors At More Risk of Dehydration?
Dehydration can have dire consequences for anyone, but seniors are especially vulnerable to the health consequences.
For one, our sense of thirst can weaken as we age, but our need for water doesn’t. A senior may not feel thirsty despite being in the heat, but they may still need just as much water.
Kidney problems can increase dehydration risk as well. Our kidneys work less efficiently as we age, creating more bathroom trips and thus loss of fluids.
Finally, seniors tend to take more medications, and some of these can cause dehydration. At the same time, the senior may not realize they’re dehydrated.
Here are some common dehydration symptoms:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Loose skin
- Urinating less than usual
- Fast heart rate
- Blood pressure drop
As you can see, some of these can be subtle at first, making it hard to tell if it’s dehydration.
How to Prevent Dehydration
The answer to this one is simple: drink adequate water. Eight glasses a day is recommended, but exact amounts differ between individuals. It’s best to talk with your doctor about the proper amount of water consumption.
That said, it’s not easy to remember to drink water regularly. This is especially true for seniors who may be experiencing dementia or cognitive decline. Caregivers must keep this in mind.
Even seniors that aren’t experiencing cognitive decline can forget to drink water. It helps to set an alarm on your phone, watch, or other devices that reminds you every 10 or so minutes to sip some water. Eventually, you might build the habit and no longer need the alarm.
Of course, there are other ways to prevent dehydration. In the summer months and in warm climates, that means limiting time in the heat. Seek shade throughout the day and try to spend some time indoors where there’s air conditioning and access to more water.
On that subject, seniors can benefit greatly from exercise — but they should make sure to drink extra water before, during, and after to replace the water they sweat out.
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