Risk of Dehydration in Older Adults

As the weather warms up, dehydration is an increased risk for older adults, so it is essential for water intake to increase. Health needs change as a person ages, and one common concern is the risk of dehydration in older adults. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and the things that should be done to minimize this risk. Avoiding dehydration can help a person to stay away from some of the more serious health concerns that can develop from poor hydration.

Why Older Adults Have a Higher Risk of Dehydration

Most often, dehydration is associated with inadequate water consumption. When a lack of water is combined with other health concerns, dehydration can become a bigger problem. These are some of the reasons why dehydration might occur:

  • Medications: Certain types of prescription medication might increase the risk of dehydration because of excessive sweating, diarrhea, or diuretics.
  • Body Awareness: Many people find that they are less aware of thirst as they age. For some reason, the aging process slows the response to thirst, which in turn decreases the amount of water the person consumes.
  • Fluid Regulation: Aging adults are also more prone to poor regulation of fluid balancing within the body. Shifts in the water balance can result in dehydration, and these shifts might happen unexpectedly.
  • Lower Kidney Function: Kidney function begins to decline with age, so the body isn’t as efficient at concentrating the urine output into smaller amounts of water. As a result, older people will lose more water compared with younger people.

Symptoms of Dehydration

It is important to watch for the symptoms of dehydration, to treat the problem quickly if it arises. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, thick saliva, inability to urinate, dark yellow urine, muscle cramping in the arms and legs, irritability, sleepiness, headaches, low blood pressure, stomach bloating, sunken eyes, and convulsions.

If these symptoms are present, then it is essential to increase water intake. Water consumption should be gradually increased, and medical care is needed if the symptoms are severe.

Here at Windward Life Care, we specialize in helping older adults and their families with the resources they need to age well. For more information about supporting the health of a family member, contact our team to learn about the services that are available.