Water is required for practically all biological activities, including lubrication of joints and blood circulation to the heart. Maintaining good health requires staying hydrated. Dehydration is more common in older adults for a variety of reasons, including a reduced feeling of thirst.
What is dehydration?
According to National Council on Aging, Dehydration is a potentially dangerous condition that occurs when you don’t drink enough water to meet your body’s requirements.
Why are older people more prone to dehydration? According to Mayo Clinic, the first reason is due to a lack of thirst sensation; changes in water & sodium balance naturally occurring as people age; being affected by a variety of impairments, disabilities, and/or handicaps; the use of a variety of drugs/medications that can cause typical age-related physiological changes in the water and salt balance to be overstressed.
Other causes that can lead to dehydration:
- Diarrhea/Vomiting: fluid losses and electrolyte losses
- Fever: the higher the fever, the more likely they are to become dehydrated.
- Medications: dehydration can also be caused by certain drugs, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, which cause to urinate more frequently.
- Inadequate intake: drinking less than the required amount daily
Labs values can also be an indication of dehydration for example:
- Sodium = high value indicates dehydration
- BUN = good indicator of dehydration; the kidneys excrete excess urea, but if not able to urinate due to not producing enough urine, then the urea in the blood will accumulate
- CRT = high in dehydration; kidneys will excrete it in urine, but if not producing enough urine then it can accumulate
- Albumin = if increased, indicates dehydration; maintains colloidal osmotic pressure; prevents fluid from leaking into tissue.
- Excessive thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
How to prevent dehydration for older adults?
- Select food with high water content such as fruits and vegetables
- Encourage Seniors to drink throughout the day rather than drink a significant amount of fluids all at once.
- Encourage to avoid alcohol and caffeine as they have a diuretic effect on the body
- Include hydration in their daily regimen for example set a schedule to drink in the morning 2 cups, then in the afternoon, before meals, and in the evening.
Although hydration is crucial for older adults; however, overhydration can be dangerous. According to Healthline, water intoxication can occur as a result of excessive hydration. When the amount of salt and other electrolytes in the body is too diluted hyponatremia can occur. Hyponatremia occurs when sodium levels drop dramatically. Fluid restriction is required in some medical conditions such as CHF, kidney, and liver failure this is because these conditions can cause overhydration by making the body hold on to more fluid.
Tips to prevent overhydration?
- Account for water from foods
- Account for water from various Medications distribution throughout the day
- Account for all fluids including tea, coffee, soda, juice, and all other beverages