Warning Signs of Dehydration

A senior woman enjoys a glass of refreshing water to stay hydrated.

Drink Up! Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration in Seniors

As summer kicks into high gear, our thoughts usually turn to outdoor fun and activities. This time of the year is perfect for cookouts in the park, going to the beach and road trips with your family and friends. The warm months also bring the summer sun and the heat, which can be a problem for the unprepared. One of the top summer safety issues for seniors is dehydration, which occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in. While dehydration can strike any person at any time, the risk is increased for seniors. In this post, we’ll explore more about dehydration, including the warning signs and tips for preventing this common and avoidable condition.

What Causes Dehydration in Older Adults?

Your body is made of 60% water, and it needs water to carry out its vital functions. Water is constantly removed from the body through very routine tasks such as breathing, sweating, and using the restroom. Dehydration occurs when there is more water leaving the body than water entering the body. Here are some causes of dehydration:

Sweating – heat and exercise cause the body to sweat, which is a normal process that helps keep the body cool. Excessive sweating can quickly lead to dehydration.

Illness – some illnesses can cause diarrhea or vomiting, which expels water from the body quickly. That’s why it’s always important to rehydrate and drink plenty of fluids when you’re sick

Diabetes – high blood sugar levels can cause an increase in urination and fluid loss.

Decreased kidney function – as we age, our bodies lose kidney function and are less able to conserve fluid. While this usually starts around age 50, it becomes more noticeable for adults over the age of 70.

Lack of water – it seems simple enough, but some seniors simply do not drink enough water during the day. Whether it’s a general lack of thirst or just being too busy to take a few sips, it’s common to drink less water than we need.

Warning Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration is easy to spot once you know what to look for. For seniors, this is especially important because you may not recognize the signs of dehydration, or you could have reduced sensitivity to dehydration’s effects. If you see one or more of the following signs, you or a loved one may be dehydrated.

Signs of Mild to Moderate Dehydration:

  • Dry or Sticky mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Not urinating enough
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps

Signs of Moderate to Severe Dehydration:

  • Dizziness
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat or  breathing
  • Fainting or unconsciousness

Fever and chills are also a sign of dehydration. Remember that the body needs water to cool itself via sweat. Fever and chills are a sign that the body doesn’t have enough water to regulate temperature.

How to Prevent Dehydration

  1. Fortunately, you have the power to prevent dehydration. Here are some tips to avoid dehydration:
  2. Drink more fluids, especially water. Some doctors suggest five eight-ounce glasses of water as a benchmark.
  3. Eat foods that contain high amounts of water, especially fruits and vegetables.
  4. Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol when possible. They can actually cause you to lose more fluid than you take in by drinking them.
  5. Check your medications. Some have the side effects of dry mouth or frequent urination, which can cause you to lose fluid quickly.
  6. Watch what kind of fluids you drink. Some, like water, will replenish the body’s fluids much better than others. Other beverages like sports drinks provide sodium and electrolytes to keep the body working, but too much of them can be harmful.

A Vibrant, Healthy Way of Life at Advent Christian Village

At ACV, senior health and wellness is a major priority. We promote healthy lifestyles through our focus on wellness and enrichment. Copeland Community Center is staffed with professionals to help you personalize and meet your health and fitness goals. But our commitment to your health doesn’t stop there. Our community dining options offer healthy and delicious meals to keep you nourished and hydrated throughout the day.

We offer a variety of senior living options as well, from independent living to skilled nursing and memory care, ensuring you’ll find a perfect fit here. Contact us today to learn more about our inviting and welcoming community in north Florida. An exciting and healthy life is waiting for you at ACV.

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