Blog by Mark Wolfe, Customer Account Representative, GrandView Pharmacy

Within your long-term-care facility you may have had numerous residents complaining of constant headaches and even dealing with symptoms of depression. These common complaints are usually caused by loneliness, but are you aware that they can also be caused by dehydration? Dehydration is a common problem amongst the elderly, whether they reside in independent living, assisted living or a skilled nursing facility. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain proper hydration in the elderly.

Elderly residents complaining of headaches and dizzy feelings may actually be dehydrated. As people age, the sense of feeling thirsty decreases, thus there is less and less fluid intake. But dehydration, or the loss of water within the body, can also occur when one sweats excessively, refrains from regular and sufficient intake of water, experiences excess urination, vomiting or loose bowel movements. Because of the decreased feeling of being thirsty, elderly people do not drink water in regular time spans throughout the day in order to maintain proper hydration.

Proper hydration can help maintain a healthy body and is easy to do on one’s own behalf. Or, those residents in assisted or independent living situations may simply need gentle reminders.

Failure to maintain proper hydration can dramatically affect the mortality rate, particularly more in the elderly. Frequent intake of water can help flush toxins from the body, moistens oxygen to make for easier breathing, transports nutrients within cells, and maintain proper electrolyte balance. (1)   The dehydration condition may lead to loss of cognitive function, hospitalization, kidney issues, and dryness in urine bladder, urinary tract infection and many more. Therefore, proper hydration in elderly is very necessary to prevent fatal situations and agony. (2)

Water is a kind of a therapy which has the power to heal several types of diseases and internal body immunity issues. In general, a human being should consume around 6 to 8 cups of water which is 250 ml each. Around 48 to 70 ounces of fluid should be taken in any form of liquid on a regular basis. The need for fluid intake may be more depending on individual activity levels, climate and lifestyle. The need for proper hydration increases when there is water loss in any form. (3)

A Registered Dietician known to the author sees this often, and she recommended the following:

Proper hydration in the elderly is possible in many ways. (Laura J Knoblauch, Registered Dietician)

  • Drink at least an 8-ounce glass of water 4 times during the first part of the day; say between 7 am to 12 am. After you complete a meal, drink one glass of luke warm water with a little salt and lemon drops. This is very good to maintain hydration, but more importantly, to assure electrolyte balance in elder people.
  • Fruits and Veggies – Consume fruits and vegetables for natural hydration. Fruits, fresh fruit juices, vegetable juices, fruit infusion drinks or vegetable soups can be easily prepared at home. Citrus fruits, berries and melons have great water content in them. Also, veggies like tomatoes, cucumber and bottle guard are popular for proper hydration in the elderly.
  • Fresh coconut water – Fresh coconut water contains the right amount of water content and is rich in minerals and essential nutrients. It can be easily taken to maintain proper hydration in the elderly. As it is rich in potassium, make sure that you have no such dietary restrictions. AgingCare Jennifer LeeFlang.

Other ways to remain hydrated are to eat the following…

  • Watermelon – One cup of watermelon either diced, or in 10 melon balls is a great way to hydrate. Watermelon is 92% water.
  • Ice pops – You can also try out ice pops in different flavors to give a change to your taste buds. Ice pops can help to prevent a heat stroke. You can prepare ice pops using fresh fruits and natural flavors at home to provide proper hydration in the elderly. However, those having frequent colds and who need to restrict cold foods may have to avoid it.

Nevertheless, drinking plenty of water is the easiest way of proper hydration in the elderly. Having a good night’s sleep, taking a healthy diet and being physically active also helps to keep your system healthy. Make sure you take the prescribed medicines on time and report any changes or undesirable symptoms to your physician at the earliest.

References:

  1. Pramod, Kerkan Pain Assist.Com. August 2, 2017
  2. Hydration Practices in Residential & nursing Homes for Older People; G Cook, P Hodgson 2019
  3. AgingCare.com, Jennifer LeeFlang, RN
About the Author

Click here to learn more about Mark and the rest of the GrandView team.

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