Our elderly loved ones need a little extra TLC during the hot summer months. Find out why dehydration increases with age and get valuable tips on keeping your favorite senior hydrated.
Senior dehydration is a common health issue that can lead to bigger problems if proper hydration is not made a priority, such as low blood pressure and urinary tract infections. Proper hydration helps to keep the body and vitals regulated. The University of Chicago Medical Center found that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over 65.
There are a number of reasons the elderly are so prone to dehydration:
- As people get older, body water content decreases.
- Many medications the elderly take make them more susceptible to dehydration.
- Many seniors have underlying health conditions that make them less able to adapt to heat.
- Specific conditions, such as comprehension and communication disorders, decreased mobility, reduced capacity, as well as, incontinence can contribute to dehydration.
- The ability to notice changes in body temperature typically decreases with age.
- The elderly often experience diminished thirst; which leads to a reduced fluid consumption.
- With aging, the kidneys have a reduced ability to concentrate urine and retain water during water deprivation.
The Health Issues Dehydration Can Create
There are some staggering statistics, compiled from The Adult & Geriatric Institute, The Department on Aging, The Department of Health, The European Review of Aging and Physical Activity and The Hydration for Health Initiative, about dehydration in seniors.
Things you should know about elderly dehydration:
- Dehydration can accelerate or bring about emergency hospitalization and/or increase the risk of hospital stays
- Dehydration has been associated with increased mortality rates among older adults
- Dehydration has been associated with many elderly health issues, including elderly confusion, impaired cognition, falling and constipation
- Dehydration is a frequent cause of hospitalization of older adults and one of the ten most frequent diagnoses responsible for hospitalization in the U.S.
It is also estimated that avoidable costs of hospitalizations resulting from dehydration is $1.14 billion, annually.
What Steps Can Be Taken to Prevent Elderly Dehydration?
Fluid intake is key. Caregivers and families need to be cognizant about risks to make sure aging loved ones are properly hydrated.
Here are sometips to help encourage fluid consumption and reduce the risk of elderly dehydration:
- Encourage 8 oz. of fluid intake every time the senior takes medication.
- Keep water bottles and/or a water cooler available throughout the day wherever the senior is (for example, in bed, or throughout the house or at the senior living community).
- Offer fluids on a regular basis throughout the day.
- Provide favorite “mocktail” concoctions (see below for some great recipes) or your senior’s favorite beverages (make sure they’re not alcoholic or caffeinated).
Tasty Recipes To Keep Your Elderly Loved Ones Hydrated
Strawberries and Coconut Water
To make 2 Strawberry Mocktails combine:
- 1 cup (250ml) of fresh coconut water
- 1 cup (250 ml) strawberries hulled and sliced
- 3 T of sugar syrup or agave nectar
- To make the sugar syrup, boil sugar and water together in a ratio of 1:3 sugar to water until it thickens to a runny syrup consistency. Store in a jar for all future cocktail making.
- Measure 1 cup of coconut water, either directly from a cut-open coconut or from a store-bought container (if you are lucky enough to live in an area that sells fresh coconut water in a bottle).
- Combine the strawberries and sugar syrup and blend with a blender to desired consistency.
- Serve with ice.
Get more information on making this delicious strawberries and coconut drink.
Cucumber Lemonade with Basil
To make 3 to 4 Cucumber Lemonade treats combine:
- 1 English cucumber
- 3 C water
- 3 lemons
- 2 T sugar
- 1 small bunch basil
- 1 C soda water
- Start by cutting your cucumber in half. Peel one half and cut it lengthwise (you can cut it in half again first if need be).
- Scoop the seeds out and chop it into pieces.
- Put the cucumber pieces in a food processor and puree until smooth.
- Put puree in a fine mesh sieve over a container and push with a wooden spoon or spatula, extracting as much liquid as you can from the cucumber puree.
- Fill a separate bowl or container with 3 cups water. Squeeze 2 lemons into the water and mix in the sugar.
- Pour lemonade and cucumber juice into a pitcher or serving container. Slice remaining cucumber half (unpeeled) and remaining lemon and add to pitcher. Add basil, too. Refrigerate until chilled.
- Serve with ice.
Get more information on making this refreshing cucumber lemonade drink.
Have any suggestions for recipes that we should add to our list to prevent elderly dehydration? Share them with us in the comments below.