Dehydration happens when a person loses more fluids than they drink so that the body does not have enough fluid for normal functions. Seniors become dehydrated more easily than other people because, as a person ages, the body naturally has less water than it once did. Researchers have found that 48 percent of seniors who are admitted to the hospital after a visit to the emergency room have signs of dehydration.
Why are seniors more prone to dehydration?
Scientists say that as people get older, they generally don’t feel thirst as urgently as they did when they were younger. As a result, seniors sometimes don’t recognize their body’s need for water, so they do not drink as much.
Another reason that seniors may become dehydrated more easily is because of medications. Some medications cause the body to lose more water than normal, so if a senior does not drink more to replace the excess water lost, they may become dehydrated.
Seniors may also be more prone to dehydration because of changes in the body. As a person ages, they naturally lose muscle mass and gain more fat cells. When this happens, the total volume of water in the body also decreases. In men, the volume of water drops by 6 to 8 percent after the age of 60. Aside from a natural loss of water volume, the kidneys also undergo changes that make them less efficient at removing toxins from the body. When this happens, the body does not concentrate urine as well, so the body loses more water.
How can I tell if my parent is dehydrated?
When dehydration is caught early, when symptoms are only mild or moderate, usually the situation can be reversed by drinking fluids. However, if the symptoms go untreated, dehydration can become serious and may even lead to death. Some of the symptoms of mild dehydration are:
- Cramps in the arms or legs.
- Dry mouth or thick saliva.
- Feeling unwell.
- Inability to urinate or dark yellow urine.
More serious symptoms include:
- Rapid breathing.
- Low blood pressure.
- Severe cramping in the arms, legs, back, or stomach.
- Weak, rapid pulse.
- Dry, sunken eyes.
- Bloated stomach.
- Loss of skin elasticity.
If you or your parent’s home care provider notices severe symptoms of dehydration, your parent should receive emergency medical care.
Can home care help prevent dehydration?
Yes, having a home care provider can help prevent dehydration in your senior parent. Home care providers can be hired through agencies to come in for just a few hours a day, for the entire day, or even overnight. A home care provider can monitor the fluids your parent drinks and encourage them to drink more throughout the day. They can also watch for mild symptoms of dehydration so the situation can be dealt with before it becomes serious.
If you or someone you know needs home care in St. Cloud, MN, contact Prairie River Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.