As temperatures begin to rise, dehydration in the elderly will become a real concern. If someone you love is in a nursing home you should know the signs of dehydration to make sure they are receiving enough fluids to keep them hydrated and safe.
Here are some signs to watch for that are outlined by an article by the Mayo Clinic:
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
What causes dehydration?
According to the article, dehydration can be caused by several factors. One of the most simple causes is lack of fluids. Another common cause of dehydration is being in the heat. The article also outlines other more complicated causes of dehydration:
- Diarrhea, vomiting. Severe, acute diarrhea — that is, diarrhea that comes on suddenly and violently — can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short amount of time. If you have vomiting along with diarrhea, you lose even more fluids and minerals.
- Fever. In general, the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you may become. The problem worsens if you have a fever in addition to diarrhea and vomiting.
- Excessive sweating. You lose water when you sweat. If you do vigorous activity and don’t replace fluids as you go along, you can become dehydrated. Hot, humid weather increases the amount you sweat and the amount of fluid you lose.
- Increased urination. This may be due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, also can lead to dehydration, generally because they cause you to urinate more.
Older Adults and Dehydration
Everyone is susceptible to dehydration. Elderly residents at nursing homes are at a higher risk of dehydration though. The Mayo Clinic article outlines why older people are at a higher risk:
As you age, your body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller, your ability to conserve water is reduced and your thirst sense becomes less acute. These problems are compounded by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia, and by the use of certain medications. Older adults also may have mobility problems that limit their ability to obtain water for themselves.
Here are some complications that can be the result of dehydration in nursing homes: