Author: Hana Kašková
Hydration is closely monitored in the senior population due to the physiological changes that occur as our body goes through the aging process. The body composition changes by retaining less water, increasing the fat tissue, and diminishing the sense of thirst. The disease process that affects the senior population impacts the hydration status as well as increasing the likelihood of increased hospital stays, visits to the emergency rooms, and other health complications. Being aware of the symptoms of dehydration in seniors is essential.
Signs of Dehydration
Maintaining proper hydration is very important in the senior population because when a senior is suffering from other diseases, dehydration can have fatal consequences. Maintaining water balance in the body contributes to maintaining proper body temperature, good skin turgor, cell metabolism, kidney function, avoiding urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, kidney stones, constipation, low blood pressure, medication intoxication, and organ failure.
The first signs and symptoms of dehydration are:
- Dark Urine
- Poor Skin Turgor
- Dry Mouth or Extreme Thirst
- (And in severe cases) Cognitive impairment
- Decreased Urine Output
A proper technique for anyone to evaluate hydration levels is by checking urine color first thing in the morning if it is a dark color, it means that the body is slightly dehydrated, lighter tones implies that the body is adequately hydrated.
Generally, it was recommended to drink about eight cups of water per day for healthy people, but further research had shown that every person has unique hydration needs due to different body composition, age, sex, and medical condition. Seniors who are diagnosed with Congested Heart Failure, Chronic Kidney Disease, on Hemodialysis, Ascites, Edema, and Liver Disease have fluid restrictions related to their diagnosis, and the amount of fluids allowed is per their Doctor’s orders. Those consuming high protein diets generally should increase their fluid intake, not to mention after exercise there is an increased fluid need as well.
Keeping Seniors Safe
Oftentimes, older loved ones have a diminished sense of thirst, which can also be one of the symptoms of dehydration for seniors. It is always helpful to have a glass of a preferred beverage out in front of them, queuing from a healthcare staff or family member is also useful for a senior to be reminded to take a couple of sips of water. Drinking before eating meals could help to increase fluid intake for seniors. Since water is often the least favorite for most people, try water infused with lemon, lime, cucumber, fresh herbs like mint, basil, lavender, or rose water. Even a combination of fresh fruit with herbs is a great way to enhance hydration like watermelon mint water, blackberry orange water, lavender lemonade, or ginger peach water can all be refreshing.
Consumption of fruits and vegetables is another way to achieve hydration. Leaving a bowl of fresh fruits and veggies out on a table or the kitchen counter contributes to higher intake. Some fruits high in water content are watermelon, strawberries, oranges, peaches, and cantaloupes. Those types of fruits also contain beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Vegetables high in water are:
- Cucumbers, Lettuce
- Bell peppers
For those who love smoothies, yogurt, chocolate milk, and other dairy products it is a great way to hydrate as well as to add some protein, vitamins, and minerals to the diet. Veggies are excellent when cut up and served with a dipping sauce or in a salad. In hot summer times, frozen fruits, sherbets, ice creams, and popsicles are refreshing and hydrating as well.
There are many options to decrease symptoms of dehydration in seniors and achieve an adequate level of hydration. The factors to take into consideration when trying to hydrate appropriately is senior’s medical status and diagnosis, food and drug interaction, food allergies and intolerances, and doctor’s orders. One can non-underestimate proper fluid intake because it is crucial in maintaining body homeostasis, metabolism, and good health for anyone.
If you are interested in learning how technology can help seniors stay safe, contact us today.
Silversphere loves highlighting partners that care about the wellbeing of seniors. This guest blog was written by a Poinciana Medical Center Registered Dietician intern, Hana Kašková. This article is a reminder of the importance of hydration in seniors.
While it may be winter, hydration is important all year round – not just during the summertime.