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Tips for keeping seniors hydrated this summer

BHC Hydrate blog.jpgWhen the summer heat is on, it’s easy to become dehydrated, and this is especially true for seniors.

And seniors are also at higher risk for complications and hospitalizations related to dehydration. It's important to keep an eye on your senior's diet to make sure they are getting adequate fluids to maintain good health.

As we age, our perception of thirst changes, and often we don’t feel the urge to drink as much as we should. Other health problems can also contribute to dehydration.

Some of these are:

  • Restricted fluid diets
  • Diabetes
  • Some medications, especially diuretics
  • Incontinence
  • Decreased kidney function

Getting enough fluid for health

While it’s important to encourage your senior loved one to drink the recommended amount of water, that goal may be more than they can do in a day. So, it doesn’t have to be water. Your senior may enjoy decaffeinated coffee or iced tea or juice to aid hydration.

Fortunately, many summer favorites are high in water content and have other health benefits as well. Cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches and strawberries can all seem like a summer treat while they add water and fiber to a senior’s diet. Or try frozen fruit bars, sugar-free ice pops or homemade smoothies.

Soups and broths are also good meal ideas that can make fluid intake less of a chore for seniors.

At the same time, cut back on foods that can contribute to dehydration such as processed foods, foods and drinks with a high sugar content, alcohol, fatty foods, salty foods and high-protein meals.

Rather than waiting for a senior to get thirsty, make water readily available at all times (if that is medically OK) and encourage them to drink on a schedule. By the time your loved one realizes they need a drink, they may already be feeling ill or in danger of complications.

Dehydration can also interfere with the effectiveness of medications, so it is critical to have enough fluids to keep everything running smoothly.
Watch for signs of dehydration

Has your senior become dehydrated? It’s important to pay attention and get fluids into your senior’s system if you notice these symptoms:

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Sunken eyes
  • Inability to sweat or produce tears
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Unconsciousness or delirium
  • Constipation

In seniors, dehydration can quickly lead to severe complications, including:

  • Swelling of the brain
  • Seizures
  • Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock)
  • Kidney failure
  • Coma and death
  • Heat injury

Dehydration should be taken seriously. It’s easier to prevent dehydration than face the possibly fatal consequences.

Belvedere Home Care can help you monitor your loved one in their own home and make sure they are getting the healthy, hydrating diet they need. We can even prepare meals and help your senior stick to a prescribed diet plan.

For more information, call us at (518) 694-9400.