Your Elderly Loved One And The Risk Of Dehydration

Posted on: 12 October 2015

Water is incredibly important for all of us, but it's especially important for your elderly loved ones. Often older loved ones aren't as likely to get as much water as they should, and it can cause them to become dehydrated easily. Medications and other health conditions can also contribute, so it's important to help your loved one to get as much water as possible during the day.  

Symptoms of Dehydration

It's not uncommon for the earliest symptoms of dehydration to be completely unrelated to thirst. Your loved one might have a headache or muscle cramps that won't go away. By the time your loved one actually feels thirsty, he or she may have already become far more dehydrated than you realize. Other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Thick or no saliva
  • Lack of urination
  • Lethargy and sleepiness
  • Irritability that can't be explained

Left untreated, muscle cramps can become much worse and your loved one may experience other problems. Extreme dehydration can lead to convulsions, extremely low blood pressure, and trouble breathing. If your loved one is at that point, seek medical attention immediately.

For caregivers who aren't sure if their loved one is dehydrated, there's a simple test you can perform. Pull up a small amount of skin on the back of your loved one's hand. Hold it for a few seconds and then let it go. If the skin snaps back into place quickly, then she's likely doing well with water intake. If the skin stays in place, however, especially for longer than three or four seconds, she may be very dehydrated.

Helping Your Loved One to Stay Hydrated

If your loved one isn't excited about the idea of drinking more water, you're going to have to become creative. Adding some lemon or lime juice to plain water can help to give the water a pleasing flavor. Keep water handy at all times as a visual reminder for your loved one to remember to drink. Another option if your loved one isn't drinking a lot of water is to provide foods that are high in water content. Fruits, soups, and even herbal teas are good alternatives to glasses of water. Start increasing your loved one's water intake gradually to help get him or her used to drinking water more often.

For loved ones who don't like the taste of tap or well water, consider having a bottled water delivery set up for them (by a local outlet, such as Mountain Valley Water). You can be sure that your loved one is getting high-quality water delivered right to the home, so it's convenient and carefree.