It’s easy to assume that in a hot and humid country such as Singapore, drinking enough water would be ingrained in us from a young age.
However, staying hydrated for some of us is not as straightforward as you think. Often we can’t even tell that someone is dehydrated as they don’t show the obvious signs such as increased thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, weakness, headache or fatigue.
In the elderly, signs of dehydration can be even more vague and deceptive. Did you know that in seniors, almost 50% are already dehydrated when they are admitted to hospital for something completely different?
But why do our elderly get dehydrated so often? Well, to start with, as we age, the water content of our bodies goes down. Older people also just don’t feel as thirsty as younger people do as their thirst signals are not so active. They can also be:
- Taking medicines that may cause them to lose precious water and electrolytes from their bodies.
- Unable to move around and may need help to walk. As a result, they may feel embarrassed asking for help to get some water!
- Suffering from dementia or memory loss and may not remember to drink.
- Intentionally drinking less water due to problems such as incontinence.
- They may have chronic conditions such as constipation, dysphagia, diabetes, kidney disease or even be on tube feeding because they can’t swallow that put them at a higher risk for dehydration.
The impact of dehydration can be severe. It can lead to kidney stones, urine tract infections, delirium, and serious imbalance of electrolytes, weight loss and ultimately death.
But many causes of dehydration are entirely avoidable with the right care and support. Families of affected loved ones should look out for the less obvious signs and act swiftly to prevent more complications. Here are some tips to avoid dehydration:
- Drink small amounts of water more frequently throughout the day than a lot at one go.
- Remember that soups, milk, juices and fresh fruits and vegetables high in water also count, so have these often (limit tea, coffee and colas as they can cause the body to lose more water).
- If your loved one is suffering from incontinence, seek medical help to manage it properly so that they will be less likely to avoid fluids.
- Consider hydration jellies which can help replenish fluids and provide much needed electrolytes to the body.
Help you or your loved ones stay hydrated, healthy and happy.
Speak to us at Health Food Matters today, call 6250 2129.