Dehydration is common among over 60s, yet some are not aware of the dire consequences – and the damage it can have on your body and health.
It’s important that we keep an eye on our fluid intake so we’re taking a look at how you can prevent dehydration, recognise it and then treat it.
What causes dehydration?
Inadequate water intake is often what we think of when we think of the main cause of dehydration, but in actuality, medication such as diuretics, diarrhea, sweating, loss and blood and diabetes can make you much more dehydrated…and fast.
Unfortunately, as we get older, we don’t often feel thirsty, even though we are. This means we can forget to drink some water and stay hydrated, and can – in some cases – end up in hospital.
As we get older, our kidneys aren’t as good at removing toxins from our blood, therefore our kidneys aren’t as efficient, so we lose more water than we used to.
When we become dehydrated, there are health consequences such as loss of consciousness, weak pulse and lowered blood pressure – if not treated quickly, dehydration can be fatal.
- Dryness of mouth; dry tongue with thick saliva
- Unable to urinate or pass only small amounts of urine; dark or deep yellow urine
- Cramping in limbs
- Crying but with few or no tears
- Weakness, general feeling of being unwell
- Sleepiness or irritability
- Low blood pressure
- Severe cramping and muscle contractions in limbs, back and stomach
- Bloated stomach
- Rapid but weak pulse
- Dry and sunken eyes with few or no tears
- Wrinkled skin; no elasticity
- Breathing faster than normal
How to stay hydrated
It’s really important that older people are well aware of the signs and symptoms of dehydration. If any signs or symptoms of dehydration are present, it is best to start treatment as soon as possible and seek medical attention.
- Be well aware of signs and symptoms of dehydration
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water
- Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine because of its diuretic effect
- Use sports drink or electrolyte drinks to quickly replenish lost supply
- Consume fluids on a regular basis
- Consume fluids at routine events, such as before or after showering
- Try to consume wet foods such as jelly and custard, as these add to the daily fluid volume
- Remember your fluid intake: 100 mL fluid per kg body weight for first 10 kg, 50 mL fluid per kg body weight for next 10 kg, 15 mL fluid per kg body weight for each kg after 20 kg – so someone weighing 80kg will need to drink 2.4L of fluid a day