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Dehydration 101: Causes and Symptoms

Grab a glass of water and you’re on your way. That’s how many deal with dehydration; but when it comes to the elderly, there’s more to the story. Read on…

We’re in the thick of summer and the temperatures continue to increase, which means that the likelihood of your elderly loved one becoming dehydrated is heightened as well.

Dehydration in the elderly can become a devastating problem with long-term effects if not treated immediately and properly. That’s why, in today’s blog, we’re diving into the topic of dehydration and spotlighting the causes and symptoms.

Researchers have found that 48 percent of older adults that were admitted to hospitals after treatment in the emergency department had signs of dehydration in their lab results.

To this point, it’s important to understand the causes of dehydration.

Commonly, dehydration is linked to inadequate water intake. However, dehydration also can be a side effect of prescription medications like diuretics, and can be a symptom of other conditions, like diarrhea, excessive sweating and diseases such as diabetes.

It’s also important to note that your elderly loved one might not be able to feel the sensation of thirst as markedly they once did. As we begin to age, the body’s ability to be aware of and respond to thirst decreases, which means that an elderly person is less likely to consume water on a frequent basis.

Now that we’ve covered the causes, let’s delve into the symptoms of dehydration.

Mild dehydration

  • Cramping in limbs
  • Crying but with few or no tears
  • Dryness of the mouth, which includes a dry tongue with thick saliva
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy or irritability
  • Unable to urinate or pass only small amounts of dark or deep yellow urine
  • Weakness or overall feeling of being unwell

Moderate/severe dehydration

  • Bloated stomach
  • Breathing at a rapid pace
  • Convulsions
  • Dry and sunken eyes with little to no tears
  • Fast but weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Wrinkled skin with no elasticity

If you notice any of these symptoms in your elderly loved one, it’s important to quickly provide fluids and bring him or her inside to prevent further sweating. If you see signs of moderate or severe dehydration, a physician’s attention may be required.

Check back in the coming weeks when we touch on the topic of preventing dehydration.

Sources:

http://www.parentgiving.com/elder-care/dehydration-a-hidden-risk-to-the-elderly/

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