People often associate keeping hydrated with extremely hot temperatures or exercising heavily; thinking in terms of sweating all of your water out. However, becoming dehydrated can happen at any time and does not necessarily require heavy sweating and extreme conditions.
Quite often seniors will become dehydrated without knowing it; resulting in what could become a detrimental problem if not addressed immediately. Some of the common reasons that seniors may become dehydrated include:
- Aches & pains keep them from moving from a comfortable place and going to the kitchen to get a drink
- Dementia, even in the early stages can sometimes result in the person not realizing that they haven’t drank anything for hours or even days
- Access to something to drink may not be easy & quick (for example they may have glasses that are up high in the cupboard & it’s difficult to reach or they may have a container that poses problems to them when they try to open them)
- Waiting until they feel thirsty before they seek hydration; generally this is too late and hydration has already begun to set in
There can be severe consequences to being dehydrated and if you don’t have someone who is making sure the senior is taking in liquids regularly they are at risk.
What Can Happen When Someone is Dehydrated?
If you consider that 2/3 your body weight is actually made up of water you can see the correlation between keeping hydrated and keeping healthy. The water in our body is utilized for a variety of reasons including digestion, blood flow, cell regeneration, and maintaining a healthy body temperature. The average person loses anywhere between 48 to 72 ounces of water daily with normal body functions such as sweating, digestion, and even breathing. This means if you were to simply sit and do practically nothing at all you would still lose up to 72 oz. of water from your body. Needless to say this is one reason why it is important to maintain a regular intake of fluids; whether via drinking water or any other liquids or eating fresh fruits and vegetables or other foods (soups) that may contain water in them.
When someone becomes dehydrated they can suffer from brain fog, memory issues, bladder & kidney problems, a drop in blood pressure, an increased heart rate, migraines, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. You don’t want your senior loved one suffering from any of these issues; as it can leave them in a dangerous position, especially if they are alone.
How to Keep Hydrated & Safe
It’s important to keep hydrated and, contrary to former belief, any intake of fluids counts toward hydration. It used to be thought that only actual water counted towards your intake of fluids; but new studies have found that taking water or fluids in by any means, including foods (fruits & vegetables are one of the best ways) and beverages of any type (other than alcohol). A good way to ensure that your loved one is able to stay hydrated each day is to have liquids readily available to them, especially if they are home alone for long periods. If they have aches and pains that keep them from getting up to get a drink the quick answer is to place an insulated pitcher filled with their beverage of choice next to them for easy access. The second thing to do is address the aches and pains. That’s where GO Physical Therapy can be of help to you; we will come to your home to do an assessment and work on what’s causing the aches and pains right there in the comfort of your own house.
Be sure there are plenty of freshly prepared, washed and cut fruits & vegetables for them to enjoy throughout the day. The water inside of the produce is taken in by your body to replenish and hydrate.
Most of all if your loved one is suffering from dementia you need to keep track of their intake of liquids and food. You can do this by measuring out pitchers of water or beverage of choice and checking at the end of the day to make sure they’ve been drinking regularly. Sometimes, simply calling them and reminding them to pour a glass of iced tea or water while you talk (maybe a call on your lunch hour & breaks) can help you rest knowing they’ve taken something in while you were on the phone. Also, hiring a caregiver can be a wonderful benefit that is usually covered by Medicare Part B. This is something to look into if you’re not certain that your loved one is eating and drinking like they should.
The important thing to remember is that dehydration can occur without becoming thirsty and without any real obvious signs until it’s too late. Keeping hydrated, any time of year, is very important and it’s even more important as we deal with the fragile body of a senior. Call GO Physical Therapy if you are unsure that your loved one is able to keep themselves hydrated. We can work with you in finding out why they aren’t drinking and/or eating and help them feel their best so that everyday tasks like simple nutrition and hydration aren’t exhausting them.
Dedicated To Your Health & Well-being (and safety),