How to Recognize Dehydration Symptoms in Seniors
Health problems in older adults caused by not drinking enough water can be solved easily by knowing how to recognize symptoms of dehydration in seniors.
Staying hydrated seems simple. You get thirsty, you drink a glass of water and you’re good to go. Right? For younger and middle-aged adults that equation is pretty simple. But for older adults living at home or in a senior living community, staying properly hydrated can be challenging. Older people who have mobility issues, dementia, frequent urination because of diabetes, or diarrhea and vomiting caused by the flu may find it difficult to drink and retain enough water to stay healthy.
A study by the UCLA School of Nursing revealed 40% of seniors may be under-hydrated which can progress to serious dehydration illnesses and issues. These can include kidney stones, urinary tract infections, falls, and fainting.
It's essential to know how to recognize the following dehydration symptoms in seniors and address them as soon as possible:
- Thirst – Surprisingly, many seniors don’t recognize their need for water or may simply ignore it because it’s too much trouble to walk and get a glass of water.
- Dry Mouth – Signs include bad breath, thick or stringy saliva, and trouble chewing or swallowing.
- Urine Color – Checking this vital sign is one of the simplest ways to determine whether someone is dehydrated. Clear or light-colored urine means the person is getting enough water, while dark-colored urine says they may be dehydrated.
- Headaches – Sometimes aspirin isn’t the cure. Not drinking enough water can be the culprit and can also cause dizziness and lead to falls.
- Muscle Weakness – Don’t dismiss a senior struggling to stand or pick up a full mug of coffee as simply suffering from the challenges of old age. It could mean they need to be better hydrated.
- Lack of Sweat – Instead of marveling at how cool and dry your loved one seems on a hot day when you are drenched in perspiration, you may want to get them a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade.
- Fatigue and Lethargy – Feeling tired and unmotivated may be a sign your senior needs more than a nap. Having them sip on a refreshing drink may be a better way to put a spring back into their step.
- Confusion – The biggest worry when you notice you or a loved one become confused is that it might be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, a clearer mind may be just a cool drink away.
These are just a few of the subtle signs of minor dehydration. The signs of severe dehydration are much more noticeable: They include a sunken look in the eyes, shriveled skin, low blood pressure or even delirium. If you notice these symptoms, a quick drink of water may not be the answer and you should seek medical care.
Lack of enough moisture in the body is a serious but often overlooked problem that can be easily solved by knowing how to recognize symptoms of dehydration in seniors.
MorningStar Senior Living
If your loved one lives far from family and friends, it could be time to move into a senior living community near their adult children where they’ll have the companionship of fellow seniors and a compassionate service team. At MorningStar Senior Living, a 24/7 team is dedicated to offer care and hospitality services that meet each resident’s social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.