Dehydration is dangerous for seniors
Dehydration is a common and very serious condition in older adults. Seniors can actually die from being dehydrated!
Dehydration in older adults can cause other major health problems like kidney stones, blood clot complications, passing out, rapid but weak pulse, and lowered blood pressure. Being hydrated is also very important for certain medications to work properly.
It’s a common problem
In one study, 31% of residents in a long-term care facility were dehydrated. In a related study, 48% of older adults who were admitted to the hospital after being treated in the emergency room had signs of dehydration in their lab tests.
Why do seniors get dehydrated?
There are many factors that make seniors more likely to become dehydrated.
Common reasons include:
- Being less sensitive to the feeling of being thirsty
- Decreased ability to keep fluid levels in balance
- Kidneys are less efficient, so urine has more water
- Common medications (like those for blood pressure) flushing water from the body
- Medications causing side effects like diarrhea or excessive sweating
How much water do seniors need?
A useful rule of thumb for how much water to drink every day is to take one-third of the person’s body weight in pounds and drink that number of ounces of water.
For example, a 150 pound person would need 50 ounces of water daily, which is about six 8 ounce glasses of water. Of course, if the weather is very hot or dry, compensate by having them drink more water than usual.
That’s helpful to get a general idea of how much water is healthy, but because everyone is on different medications and has different health issues, it’s best to talk with their doctor to understand how much water is best for your older adult
Benefits of drinking enough water
Aside from avoiding the scary health consequences, staying well hydrated has its benefits too.
Here are a few:
- Less constipation / less need for laxatives
- Fewer falls
- Reduced risk of urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Men may have reduced risk of bladder cancer
- Reduced risk of colorectal cancer