Dehydration in Elderly Is a Serious Health Risk

dehydration in elderly

Dehydration is dangerous for seniors

Dehydration is a common and very serious condition in older adults – it can even result in death.

For seniors, dehydration can cause many major health problems, including:

  • Kidney stones
  • Blood clot complications
  • Passing out
  • Rapid but weak pulse
  • Lowered blood pressure

Being hydrated is also very important for certain medications to work properly.

 

Dehydration is a common problem among seniors

In one study, 31% of residents in a long-term care facility were dehydrated. In a related study, 48% of older adults who were admitted to the hospital after being treated in the emergency room had signs of dehydration in their lab tests.

 

Why do seniors get dehydrated?

There are many factors that make seniors more likely to become dehydrated.

Common reasons include:

  • Being less sensitive to the feeling of being thirsty
  • Decreased ability to keep fluid levels in balance
  • Less efficient kidneys, which causes urine to contain more water
  • Common medications (like those for blood pressure) flushing water from the body
  • Medications causing side effects like diarrhea or excessive sweating

 

How much water do seniors need?

A general rule of thumb for how much water to drink each day is to take one-third of the person’s body weight in pounds and drink that number of ounces of water.

For example, a 150 pound person would need 50 ounces of water daily, which is about six 8 ounce glasses of water. Of course, if the weather is very hot or dry, compensate by having them drink more water than usual.

It’s helpful to get an idea of how much water intake is healthy for the average person. But, because each older adult takes different medications and has different health issues, it’s important to talk with their doctor to find out how much water is best.

 

Benefits of drinking enough water

Aside from avoiding the scary health consequences, staying well hydrated has its benefits too.

Here are a few:

  • Less constipation / less need for laxatives
  • Fewer falls
  • Reduced risk of urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Men may have reduced risk of bladder cancer
  • Reduced risk of colorectal cancer

 

You might also like:
6 Ideas to Get Seniors to Drink More Water
11 Ways to Get Someone with Dementia to Take Medication
6 Ways to Get Seniors with No Appetite to Eat

 

By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Eldercare Resources Ottowa

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