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Vital Alert: 7 Telltale Signs of Dehydration in Seniors

Now that the weather is finally beginning to get warmer, staying hydrated is as important as ever, especially in older adults. Since our bodies are made up mostly of water, it’s crucial to refuel them in order to maintain basic body functions. At Carespring’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky, we take hydration very seriously. Read more about symptoms of dehydration in the elderly and how to maintain proper hydration below.

What is dehydration?

When our bodies give out more water than we’re putting in them, we can start to feel the symptoms of dehydration. Dizziness and high heart rate are some of the symptoms caused by lack of water. Dehydration is especially common in older adults due to medication side effects, lack of thirst, and inability to recognize changes in body temperature. There are serious consequences if dehydration goes untreated, such as hospitalization or worsening of existing illnesses. 

7 Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration is a common problem among elderly people, as they are more likely to have conditions that affect fluid balance in the body. The following are some symptoms to be on the lookout for.

1. Dry mouth and throat

When an older adult is dehydrated, their mouth and throat may feel dry or sticky. This is because the body reduces saliva production to conserve fluids.

2. Dark urine

Dark-colored urine is another sign of dehydration in the elderly. This occurs when the kidneys are trying to conserve water and concentrate urine output.

3. Fatigue

Seniors who are dehydrated may feel weak or tired. This is because dehydration can lead to reduced blood volume and decreased blood flow to muscles, which can cause fatigue.

4. Confusion

Dehydration can cause confusion in elderly people, especially those with dementia or other cognitive impairments. This is because the brain needs adequate hydration to function properly.

5. Dizziness

Elderly people who are dehydrated may feel dizzy or lightheaded. This occurs because dehydration causes a drop in blood pressure, which can affect blood flow to the brain.

6. Rapid heartbeat

Dehydration can cause an increase in heart rate, as the body tries to compensate for the decreased blood volume by pumping blood faster.

7. Dry skin

Dehydration can cause the skin to become dry and less elastic. This is because the body is conserving fluids and redirecting them to more essential organs.

It is important to note that the symptoms of dehydration in elderly people may not be as apparent as they are in younger people. Therefore, it is important to encourage elderly loved ones to drink plenty of fluids and seek medical attention if they exhibit any of the above symptoms.

Tips to staying hydrated all year long:

  • Make sure to drink a full glass of water each time you take your medication. This way staying hydrated becomes a habit that will be easy to remember.
  • Drinking water doesn’t have to be a chore. Water is in everything! Drinking flavored drinks like decaffeinated tea, smoothies, or flavored water are tasty drinks that will keep you hydrated. If you occasionally drink alcohol, it’s always important to accompany it with a glass of water. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks can cause you to feel dehydrated quickly.
  • You don’t have to strictly drink water in order to stay hydrated. There are many foods that have a high water content. Adapting these foods into every meal will substantially increase your water intake without having to think about drinking. Foods like cucumbers, pineapple, grapes, tomatoes, beets, carrots and celery are great meal additions to keep you hydrated.

Discover a world of compassionate care and vibrant living at Carespring facilities across Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky. Explore our skilled nursing, memory care, rehabilitation, and independent or assisted living options today.