As people get older, their health needs change drastically. Geriatric specialists often advise older adults to be wary of their fluid intake. Lack of water or dehydration can significantly impact their overall health, calling for the increased need to balance their water intake. According to experts, senior citizens would feel less thirsty when they consume lesser amounts of fluid, making them prone to severe dehydration and its associated complications.
Effects of Dehydration in Older Adults
Unknown to many, lack of water is an important trigger of daytime fatigue. Many older adults feel sluggish in the morning when they cannot have adequate amounts of water from the previous day. Being prone to fatigue hampers their ability to function, increasing the need for external help. Additionally, it would also make it more challenging for them to carry out their tasks.
Decreased Mental Performance
Senior citizens are also noted to have decreased cognitive function when they are dehydrated for long periods. The lack of water in their system affects their brain functions, severely affecting their ability to concentrate and focus.
Increased Incidence of Constipation
Most senior care homes recommend increased fluid intake for older adults under their care. However, these supplements would never be enough if they are not properly hydrated. Dehydration is among the most common causes of constipation. For many senior citizens, drinking water is deliberately lessened because they try to avoid going back and forth to the bathroom, mainly at nighttime. However, the downside is the irregular bowel movement and even urinary incontinence.
Low Blood Pressure
Dehydration can cause older adults to suffer from low blood pressure, which could cause lightheadedness, confusion, and blurred vision. When this happens frequently, it increases the risk of older adults to suffer from falls.
Symptoms of Dehydration In Older Adults
For those caring for seniors, it is essential to note that some of the notable symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Pale skin
- Labored speech
- Sunken Eyeballs
- Lesser frequency of urination
- Deep yellow urine
Given these symptoms, caregivers should be more careful when providing hydration. However, it should not be just any water. According to the Water Filter Authority (waterfilterauthority.com), it should be clean water to ensure that they won’t get water-borne diseases.
Dehydration and Senior Care
Older adults have a higher risk of experiencing dehydration because their kidneys are no longer functioning at their optimal levels. This means that they are not as effective in filtering and removing toxic waste in the body.
Most health experts believe that caregivers should consider water health seriously, as even short-term water deprivation can be enough to make seniors suffer the consequences. Even acute dehydration can cause chronic pain. If allowed to persist, dehydration can result in a slowed metabolism, hypertension, excessive weight gain, digestive issues, and organ failure.
Ideally, the kidneys must remove at least 10 ounces of toxic wastes each day. In the absence of water, the kidneys cannot dissolve this toxic waste for excretion, resulting in accumulation within the body. Eventually, this can lead to kidney stones, subsequently causing more strain to the kidneys, which may cause them to fail.
It is alarming to know that despite the widespread availability of water in senior care homes, as much as 40% of their elderly are characterized as chronically dehydrated. Given all this information, it must be the focus of health care specialists, particularly those for the care of the elderly, to focus on water health. This can be started by increasing the consumption of vegetables with high water content, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, and lettuce. Consuming watermelon, strawberries, and pineapple also helps in addition to drinking clean water.