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In this warm weather avoid dehydration in the Elderly

Dehydration: Recognize The Symptoms


Those caring for elderly persons should watch for these signs of dehydration:


Mild dehydration:

  • 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
  • Headaches
  • Crying but with few or no tears
  • Weakness, general feeling of being unwell
  • Sleepiness or irritability


More serious dehydration:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Convulsions
  • 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


Dehydration: Staying Hydrated


Everyone knows—but many people seem to forget—that water is what sustains life. Here are just two of the benefits of being hydrated:


  • Older people who get enough water tend to suffer less constipation, use less laxatives, have fewer falls and, for men, may have a lower risk of bladder cancer. Less constipation may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.


  • Drinking at least five 8-ounce glasses of water daily reduces the risk of fatal coronary heart disease among older adults.


Caregivers should make sure the older person has water by their side at all times. Encourage frequent drinking in moderate amounts.


A good formula for how much water is needed every day is to take one-third of the person’s body weight in pounds and drink the equivalent number of ounces of water daily. For example, a 150-pound woman would need 50 ounces of water daily, or about 6 8-ounce glasses of water.


Other tips to consider:


  • If the older persons current intake, is below the required amount, have them increase the amount they drink gradually.


  • Encourage your loved one not to wait until thirsty to start drinking water: At that point dehydration has already started.


  • One sign of proper hydration is the colour of the urine—it should be clear or a pale yellow.


  • Alcohol should be avoided. Minimize the number of beverages with caffeine because of its diuretic effect, causing the kidneys to excrete more water.


  • When you see early signs of dehydration, offer a sports drink to enable quick replenishment of water and electrolytes needed by the body.


  • Severe dehydration requires medical attention; if you see any signs or even just suspect it, call the doctor.

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