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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Dehydration in Older Adults




What causes dehydration?

It’s not always as simple as not drinking enough water, although primarily this is the key reason.

As we age our ability to recognise thirst signals reduce which can often result in older adults becoming easily dehydrated.

Drinking 8 glasses of water a day, even if you don’t feel thirsty will ensure that you stay sufficiently hydrated if you are not unwell.

Should you be feeling unwell and have been sick or experienced a bout of diarrhoea then the body will require more water to replenish itself and the electrolytes lost.

What effect can this have on older adults?

Dehydration can have pronounced consequences to older adults including
·          reduced kidney function,
·          headaches,
·          cramping,
·          feeling weak or
·          unwell and
·          on the more serious scale If dehydration is not identified and treated, the consequences to health include reduced or even loss of consciousness, rapid but weak pulse, and lowered blood pressure. If rehydration is not started, the situation can become life-threatening.

How to spot dehydration?

Mild dehydration:
·          Dryness of mouth; dry tongue with thick saliva
·          Unable to urinate or pass only small amounts of urine; dark or deep yellow urine
·          Cramping in limbs
·          Headaches
·          Crying but with few or no tears
·          Weakness, general feeling of being unwell
·          Sleepiness or irritability
More serious dehydration:
·          Low blood pressure
·          Convulsions
·          Severe cramping and muscle contractions in limbs, back and stomach
·          Bloated stomach
·          Rapid but weak pulse
·          Dry and sunken eyes with few or no tears
·          Wrinkled skin; no elasticity
·          Breathing faster than normal

How can dehydration be prevented?

Encouraging regular water intake, even when there is no feeling of thirst, is essential.

If an elderly loved one appears to have some symptoms of mild dehydration offer a sports drink in order to replenish the body faster.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine as these will dehydrate even further.

Symptoms of more serious dehydration should be reported to a doctor. 
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