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Way to Prevent Dehydration in Elders

By Heather Brown
July 01, 2015

Dehydration during the hot summer months is a risk for any age, but it’s important to realize just how serious this health condition can be for the elderly.

Senior dehydration is a very common health issue that can lead to bigger adverse health effects such as low blood pressure or urinary tract infections. The elderly are extremely prone to dehydration because as the body ages, it becomes less able to notice temperature changes, overall water content decreases, the ability to retain water becomes reduced, and diminished thirst is often experienced- not to mention many are on medications which can act as a diuretic or promote sweating.

Fortunately, there are some easy steps that can be taken to ensure that senior patients or residents are getting the hydration they need. These include:

  • Encourage water consumption in small amounts throughout the day, rather than large quantities just at meals. Place water bottles by their favorite chairs or bed side. Have coolers or refrigerators throughout the house, patio, or living community that are stocked and easy to access.
  • Encourage extra water consumption with any medication that needs to be taken.
  • Provide plenty of water based foods with snacks or meals such as fruits, vegetables or soups. Think along the lines of watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, celery, or baby carrots, just to name a few.
  • Avoid allowing consumption of beverages which contain caffeine or alcohol because of the diuretic affect. If patients are craving a beverage other than water, there are a lot of “mock-tail” recipes on the web- or infusion pitchers where you can put fresh fruit into the water to flavor it.
  • Make sure staff, caregivers, and the patients themselves are trained to recognize the warning signs of dehydration. The sooner you can tell there is a problem, the sooner you can correct it.

With the summer months coming up, now is the time to make sure that elderly patients are educated on proper hydration techniques and behavior. Just because they are not thirty, does not mean they are not dehydrated. Follow these simple steps to ensure your facility, caregivers and patients are equipped to promote senior hydration.

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