It’s summertime! This season brings fun outdoor activities and beautiful — but hot — weather. Did you know the senior community is often more prone to the effects of heat and therefore at a greater risk for dehydration? Now is a good time to focus on helping our elderly loved ones stay safe, healthy, and hydrated through the elevated summer heat.
Causes of dehydration
Dehydration happens when the body does not receive or retain the adequate amount of fluid needed to function properly. If not treated properly, dehydration can cause severe health issues. Common causes include:
- Intense summer heat
- Strenuous activity
- Medications or diuretics
- Drinks which contain caffeine or alcohol
- Illness which cause fever, vomiting, or diarrhea
What should you look for?
Common warning signs of dehydration may include the following:
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Low blood pressure
- Dry skin and/or poor skin elasticity
- Not urinating frequently or dark urine
What you can do to help seniors stay hydrated?
- Always check with a doctor to make sure your loved one is getting the right amount of fluids for their individual health needs.
- Create a set fluid intake schedule. If necessary, set timers to help remind your loved one to drink fluids throughout the day. Try to decrease fluids that are high in caffeine or sugar.
- Offer sufficient fluids at every meal. This can also include fruits and vegetables with high water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers.
- Keep water within easy reach of chairs and beds.
- Check urine to ensure it is light in color.
- Offer a full glass of fluid with medication.
- Monitor skin elasticity each day.
- Monitor the environment. Close blinds and windows to reduce indoor heat, and make sure the air conditioning is on a set schedule and working well. If outdoors, make sure there is a cool, shady place to sit.
It is important to recognize the causes and symptoms of dehydration and know ways to help your elderly loved one stay hydrated. And don’t forget to utilize these tips for your own health as well. After all, you both deserve to have a healthy and happy summer! For more caregiving tips and information, visit our blog.