Why is it important to keep older adults hydrated?
Research shows evidence that dehydration affects the performance and brain function of people.
With age, the body loses the ability to detect thirst and, therefore, to maintain adequate hydration. When you reach the age of 60, the problem worsens as you get older, which is why this sector is especially vulnerable, and you must anticipate the needs of your body and not always wait until you are thirsty to drink something.
The hydration needs of the elderly are like those of the rest of adults older than 19 years: the adequate intake is between 2.5 liters in men and 2 liters in women, but the changes specific to age, and certain medications can entail to increase the risk and reduce the healthy water balance can have serious health consequences.
Symptoms of dehydration in older adults
- Headaches and migraines
- Urinary tract infection
- Low blood pressure
- Confusion similar to Dementia
- Increase of cardiac frequency
There are several reasons why a person who is elderly may be more sensitive to dehydration. In general, an older adult between 60 and 80 years old has 10% less water than the total body weight compared to a 30-year-old person, for this reason enough to be very attentive to correct hydration.
Other factors that affect the hydration of the elderly
- Medications: Many of the side effects of medications make them more prone to dehydration.
- Body temperature and water content: Our body water and the ability to notice changes in body temperature decreases with age.
- Weakened kidneys: With aging, our organs have trouble retaining water and concentrating urine.
- Less thirst: Older adults tend to be less thirsty, and their fluid intake is reduced.
- Pre-existing health conditions: For example, immobility, difficulty in communicating, ability to swallow and incomprehension may contribute to dehydration.
How does dehydration manifest itself?
- The most frequent is that there is an alteration of the person’s mental state. You can observe confusion, drowsiness or apathy.
- Falls can be another sign in this age.
- Unlike the child or the young adult, the dryness of the skin and mucous membranes are not a reliable sign of dehydration in the elderly.
If you care for an older adult or work in an environment with older adults, you should know the diet and physical activity recommended for that person, as well as the measures to take to hydrate the person in your care correctly.
How to properly hydrate older adults?
- Offer them liquid routinely throughout the day and encourage them to drink, even if they are not thirsty.
- Maintain a light and frugal diet. It should be rich in fruits, fruit juices, vegetables, gelatins and water ice creams.
- Avoid sun exposure. If unavoidable, do it only at extreme times (early in the day or late afternoon), and protected from direct contact with the sun (with hats, umbrellas or umbrellas).
- Keep ventilated and fresh environments.
- Dress the elderly in light and light color clothes.
- Do not take diuretics without strict medical advice.
- Those responsible for caring for older adults should be familiar with the possible changes that may arise in the diet of these people, help them and facilitate their consumption following appropriate guidelines in hydration.
- Increase the intake of foods such as soups, fruit, and vegetables that contain 80% to 90% of water because they are a source of essential nutrients.
- The use of alcoholic beverages is not recommended due to its dehydrating effect.
One of the main problems in this group of the population is that with age the sensation of thirst is lost, for this reason, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of drinking liquids, although they may not feel thirsty.
The specialists recommend not only the continuous intake of water but also all kinds of healthy drinks. Another factor that professionals point out concerning middle age is that old er adults also tend to have a generalized weakening of their immune system, which makes them even more vulnerable, not only to diseases but also to the consequences of dehydration
In case of any change or alteration in the mental state, consult your doctor immediately. A rapid intervention in a dehydrated patient can prevent a more severe condition.
Residential Plaza at Blue Lagoon is an assisted living community where we make our residents feel important and appreciated. We treat them as individuals and offer them personalized attention.