June 23rd is National Hydration Day! If you want to take care of your body, one thing that is necessary is staying hydrated. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the fact is many people are not getting enough water in their diet.
If you care for an aging loved one, chances are you’ve experienced the dangers of dehydration. Your first instinct to avoid this health concern may be to drink a glass of water whenever your need arises. However, drinking water might reduce your risk of dehydration, but it cannot prevent it completely. But with aging, your loved one’s sense of thirst can diminish significantly. This means that even if they’re not thirsty, it’s possible for dehydration to develop without you noticing. As a caregiver, preventive measures are important when caring for someone with dementia because the person might forget or neglect to drink during the day.
What are the Signs of Dehydration?
You may be unaware of the signs/symptoms of dehydration. Knowing what to look for, especially in the elderly, is imperative to maintaining their health.
- Inability to sweat
- Rapid heart rate
- Mobility difficulty
- Dry skin/mouth; cracked lips
- Low blood pressure
Why Do Seniors Need to Stay Hydrated?
It is vital to stay hydrated for a variety of reasons. As we age, many changes in our body put us at a higher risk of dehydration. Staying hydrated keeps electrolytes balanced, blood volume normal, and aids in digestion. The importance doesn’t stop at home. If you become dehydrated while traveling (especially as an elderly loved one), there can be added risks such as mental confusion.
Check out these top reasons to stay hydrated:
• Maintains Brain Function
In recent years, dehydration has been linked to the early signs of dementia in older adults. This can be particularly worrisome because it means that seniors are more likely than ever to experience forgetfulness, mood swings and confusion if they’re regularly not drinking enough water.
• Aids in Digestion
A lack of water can lead to constipation and other digestive issues. For seniors, dehydration can be an even bigger problem. Drinking enough water will help keep the gut healthy.
• Removes Waste
The kidneys are the most important organ in our bodies when it comes to water retention. The work of our kidneys is keeping waste at bay, balancing fluid levels and assisting with electrolyte regulation. As time passes and we age, the function of this essential organ diminishes and odds increase that other organs rely more heavily on assistance from each kidney.
• Reduces Risk of UTIs
Drinking enough fluids can be challenging, especially for seniors. The lack of hydration can lead to other health risks including urinary tract infections which may result in confusion similar to that seen in dementia patients.
Staying hydrated keeps electrolytes balanced, blood volume normal, and aids in digestion.
What Tips Can Keep Elderly Loved Ones Hydrated?
Staying hydrated is a key part of healthy living. But preventing dehydration, which many people think doesn’t affect their sedentary loved one, can be even more challenging for those who are homebound or need assistance with eating and caring for themselves.
Here are 3 tips to stay hydrated:
- Make it Convenient
Make a lot of water and healthy options available for your family to help them stay hydrated on hot days. Try making some fun concoctions at home with fresh fruit that might tempt the entire family! Eat plenty of fruits like strawberries, watermelon, grapes, oranges, or peaches when they are in season. Additionally, to make staying hydrated easier, put a water bottle or cup next to your loved one’s bed or favorite chair.
- Hydration Station
To maintain good health, it’s important for seniors to drink enough fluids each day. We at Avanti Senior Living are committed to keeping our residents hydrated and healthy in a number of ways. For example, we provide a hydration station with flavored waters in the lobby of each community for our residents during these hot summer days.
- Set a Timer
If your loved one has dementia or deals with the type of memory issues that make keeping track of time difficult, monitoring their water consumption is essential. Setting a timer during the day to remind yourself and them may be helpful, as it can be set at intervals that are appropriate for them.
It’s important to have the basics while dealing with disaster. However, it’s in your best interest to be as prepared as possible for any situation, which would include additional necessities beyond food and water. These include:
Is Dehydration Linked to Decreased Brain Function?
Dehydration is a real risk for those with dementia. The brain requires a large supply of water to function. Studies show that the body begins to lose gray matter when dehydrated. Forgetfulness can strike patients without warning. Additionally, particular medications can increase dehydration because it lessens fluid intake or the body may dehydrate because of other medical conditions such as urinary tract infections (UTIs).
People who are not hydrated often experience faster aging in their brains. In contrast, a well-hydrated brain can enhance concentration, memory function maintenance, and mood balance. Dehydration can be a symptom of short-term and long-term afflictions including a lack of mental functioning, poor balance, headache, nausea and more. In more severe cases dehydration can lead to heatstroke, coma and even death.
Your loved one’s health and safety is Avanti Senior Living’s top priority. As a resident, your loved one will receive all the care they need to stay hydrated, maintain independence, and live a healthier lifestyle. Contact your local community for more details or schedule a tour today.