As one grows older, dehydration becomes an increasing concern. While every cell, tissue and organ requires water to work properly at any age, the elderly are particularly susceptible to the effects of lack of water. Their bodies no longer retain as much water, their ability to determine when water is needed—thirst perception—diminishes and a decrease in mobility may have them heading to the refrigerator for an iced cold glass of water less frequently. In addition, urinary incontinence and certain medications can deplete water reserves. Dehydration in the elderly is associated with hospitalization, confusion, constipation, and an increased risk of falling.
How to Recognize Dehydration in your Parent
As a family caregiver, it’s important to know the signs of dehydration so that you can get needed help for your parent. Signs include: dry skin, headache, fatigue, dizziness, dark or no urine, and muscle cramps. If these initial signs are not addressed and water is not received, your parent may go on to exhibit low blood pressure, dry eyes, lack of sweating, rapid pulse and breathing rate and, ultimately, unconsciousness.
How to Help
You can help your parent stay hydrated by maintaining a glass of water by their side at all times. If your parent is not a “water” drinker, try one of the fruit-infuser water pitchers that have a central core for ice, fruits or vegetables. There is an endless variety of infused water creations such as strawberries and mint, lavender and lemons, watermelon and basil, blueberry and orange, cucumber and lemon, or ginger and peach. Experiment until you find one your parent truly enjoys.
Have foods handy that have a high water content such as watermelon, celery, tomatoes, and vegetable soup. Herbal teas are a good addition as well. Foods and beverages that should be avoided include ones containing caffeine and alcohol as both have a dehydrating effect.
Make sure that your parent has a water bottle to bring with them when they go out for walks, to their exercise classes, or simply running errands. If their area is experiencing an extreme heat wave, remind them to stay indoors and check on them every few hours.
Elderly Care Provider
An elderly care provider can assist your parent with the everyday activities of living. They can do the grocery shopping and return to their home to prepare hydrating foods and infused water. They can accompany your parent on walks, ensuring they have a water bottle in their hand and
a companion at their side.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in West Trenton, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.