Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Staying Properly Hydrated

With the warm weather finally here, it is more important than ever to stay hydrated. And while staying hydrated is important for everyone, it is absolutely vital for senior citizens, who may already be medically compromised in other ways.

One good rule of thumb for people responsible for providing care and support to seniors at home or in a long-term care setting is to recognize that thirst is never a good indication of hydration status.  In fact, by the time you are thirsty, you are probably already suffering from dehydration.

The greatest barrier for seniors when it comes to hydration is mobility. A senior with mobility issues, specifically someone that relies on a caregiver for assistance, may not be forthcoming with their needs.  Or they may wish to reduce trips to the bathroom.

Caregivers should look for the following signs of possible dehydration:

  • Drinks less than six cups of liquid a day
  • Has one or more of the following: dry mouth, cracked lips, sunken eyes or dark urine
  • Needs help drinking from a cup
  • Has trouble swallowing liquids
  • Experiences frequent vomiting, diarrhea or fever
  • Is easily tired or seems confused

Everyone should consume at least six cups of water, juice or decaffeinated liquids a day.

An easy way for caregivers to address this health care need is to have a clearly marked pitcher in the refrigerator with six cups of water in it.   Offering liquid throughout the day and measuring how much has been consumed takes is an easy way to track water consumption.

Proper hydration is essential to all body functions including regulating body temperature, transporting essential nutrients and electrolytes, and helping to dilute and transport medication.

So, go ahead and enjoy the balmy temperatures – just bring along your water bottle!


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