Don’t simply rely on seniors to tell you they are thirsty. In many cases, seniors themselves may not even be aware they are dehydrated. Studies have shown that elderly people do not feel thirst as keenly as younger people do. In addition, many common medications prescribed to older people can increase the risk of dehydration.
Instead, look for signs such as sunken eyes, dry mouth, weakness, fatigue, irritability and heavy breathing. Though it may be unpleasant, be sure to ask the senior about their urination when they go to the bathroom. Make sure they were able to urinate, as dark brown urine or the inability to urinate are the surest signs of dehydration.
While these signs of dehydration are typically simple to spot, it’s best to not let it get to that point. Planning ahead will essentially eliminate the risk of dehydration. Be sure to have plenty of cold fluids available for seniors to drink on a hot summer’s day, and keep them drinking almost constantly.
Caffeinated beverages and alcohol are not good choices for hydrating seniors. These are known as diuretics, which essentially means they cause people to urinate more, increasing the risk of dehydration. One or two drinks of this nature will not cause a senior to become dehydrated. However, be sure to supplement these beverages with water, fruit juice or sports drinks.
Many seniors in elder care communities love getting the chance to go out for a summer’s day with friends and family. Just be sure to stay on top of the fluids situation to ensure a fun time is had by all.
By Tim Watt