What Causes Dehydration? And How Can You Prevent It?

April 18, 2017

Dehydration is a lot more common than we think, especially in the elderly population. As we get older, our senses become dull so we won’t always notice when we’re thirsty. If left unchecked, severe hydration can lead to urinary tract infections, confusion, weakness, pneumonia, pressure ulcers in bed-ridden patients, or even death if you don’t drink anything for days. Dehydration could be a result of one or more of three things:

  1. Illness: certain ailments that cause vomiting or diarrhea can dehydrate us.
  2. Side effects of medications: if you’re taking certain medications, one of the many side effects that may rear its ugly head could be dehydration.
  3. Declining kidneys: at around age 50, our kidneys won’t be functioning like they used to, as they won’t be able to conserve as much fluid.

Now that we know what can cause dehydration, how can we prevent it from happening and encourage seniors from staying hydrated if health issues get in the way?

The obvious remedy is drinking more water, but how much should someone at risk of dehydration consume? The most common myth we believe when it comes to healthy water intake is 8 glasses a day, but that number varies depending on your size and health needs. The bigger and more athletic you are, the more water your body needs. 

Here are a few very simple tips to ensure that your loved one is drinking enough fluids:

-       Eating foods that have water in them: Hydration is a part of a balanced diet, and certain foods already have water content. Foods that already have liquid in them like juicy fruits, vegetables, and soup will count towards daily hydration goals.

-       Drink caffeinated beverages in moderation: Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea are also diuretics. This means that if you drink many Cups of Joe or tea, you’ll find yourself going to the bathroom more often that usual. Anyone at risk of dehydration needs to limit caffeine intake.

-       Keep water nearby: For seniors with mobility issues, having a glass of water close by can make a huge difference. This is especially helpful for those that experience pain or difficulty walking to the kitchen or a water fountain.

Dehydration is not a pleasant experience for anyone to go through, but thankfully it’s easily manageable.

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