It's very important that caregivers become more aware of the signs of dehydration in the elderly as well as to implement ways to prevent it from occurring. The physical changes which occur as a person gets older, make them more vulnerable to becoming dehydrated. The problem with this is that older individuals may not know they are dehydrated and this in itself can lead to more serious situations. Even more disturbing is the fact that as much as 48% of older patients who get admitted into the hospital, demonstrate signs of dehydration. As such, caregivers should pay attention when it comes to preventing, detecting and subsequently treating dehydration in the elderly.
How to Prevent Dehydration in the Elderly?
60% of our body weight can be attributed to water content, which is primarily stored in lean tissue. Older individuals have less lean tissue. This leads to a lower proportion of water in their bodies which can cause them to get dehydrated from anything such as a fever to the weather. But, in general most seniors should be consuming at least 40 ounces of water daily, to prevent dehydration. Some other ways to help dehydration include:
How Quickly Can an Elderly Person Become Dehydrated?
As mentioned above, several factors can cause adults to become dehydrated, but because older individuals have less lean tissues that are able to retain water, they become dehydrated faster than that of a younger individual. Factors such as underlying conditions, physical activity and the climate can make seniors become dehydrated in less than 2 - 3 hours. As such, a good rule of thumb to go by is to ensure that seniors are able to drink 8 ounces of water, every 3 hours to prevent dehydration from occurring.
How to Attain Recovery from Dehydration in Elderly People?
The time it takes to rehydrate a senior is dependent on the severity of their dehydration. Dehydration can be mild, moderate and severe. Mild dehydration can be cured instantly by giving the affected person fluids immediately. When it comes to mild cases, it's best to give the person something with electrolytes such as a sports drink or juice. In most cases they can become rehydrated in as little as 5-10 minutes. Moderate dehydration is especially serious for senior citizens. In a situation like this, they may need to be given fluids intravenous or be taken to the hospital. Most nursing homes treat moderate dehydration by providing fluid in a small needle which is placed on the thigh or belly. This process is called hypodermoclysis and is especially safe for older adults. This can help to rehydrate a person in 3-4 hours. Severe dehydration can cause multiple issues and require additional intervention to help the kidneys. In some instances, individuals may need short-term dialysis. In this case it could take more than 24 hours days for an elderly patient to fully recover.