Aspen Senior Care’s monthly in-service for August covered an important topic – keeping seniors hydrated, which was presented by Dana Mutch, an RN specializing in elderly care. Dehydration among seniors is a serious health problem that is often overlooked until it becomes a medical emergency. Dehydration in the elderly can lead to:
- Urinary track infections
- Frequent falling
- Worsening of other medical conditions, such as kidney or heart disease
- Changes in metabolism
Family caregivers and professional caregivers need to be observant and creative with ways to keep those they are caring for hydrated. This can be especially tricky because as we age our bodies lose water content and we feel a diminished sense of thirst. Polypharmacy (taking many prescriptions) can effect hydration. Often times seniors have difficulty moving and purposely do not drink very much to avoid having to get up often to bathroom.
Whatever the causes may be, the following signs and symptoms can be indicators of dehydration:
- Poor skin elasticity
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Increase in pulse
- Weight loss
- Increased respiration
- Dry skin and lips
As caregivers we need to be aware of the signs of dehydration in seniors so we can help those we can help them stay hydrated.