With temperatures on the rise during the month of August, it’s important to remember the risk of dehydration, especially among the elderly. As people age, several changes in the body can make dehydration more likely to occur and harder to notice until it’s too late. In fact, dehydration in the elderly is more common than in younger people because the ability to conserve water and to detect thirst reduces as we age. In addition, some common medications taken by the elderly reduce fluids in the body. Those medications, combined with heat related fluid loss, can further increase the risk of dehydration.
No matter the reason, it’s important to recognize the common signs of dehydration in the elderly which can include dizziness, headache, dry mouth, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, weakness and fatigue.
What can you do to prevent dehydration?
- Keep a glass of cool water handy throughout the day and stock a variety of non-caffeinated, low sugar drinks in the fridge.
- Encourage the elderly to drink an 8 ounce glass of water every time they take medications.
- In extreme heat, make sure fans and air conditioning are available or encourage the elderly to move to a cool location, such as a local senior center or mall.
- Suggest a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which have a high water content.
Do not take dehydration lightly as it can have serious consequences. If you recognize the signs of dehydration, provide fluids such as cool water and seek immediate medical assistance.