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Dehydration in Seniors

What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration?

Dehydration can be difficult to identify in the elderly. Constipation, decreased urination, weight loss, increased heart rate,  anorexia, nausea, dry mouth , sunken eyeballs, few or no tears and decreased functional ability are all symptoms of dehydration. Confusion,tired or sleepy, general weakness, trembling, lethargy,  can also result from dehydration.
What about fluid in foods?

Water from the fluids found in the foods can be helpful. Some fruits and vegetables have a  high water content.  Other foods that have fluids are soups, gelatin, and pudding. Dry foods, such as snack foods, cookies, and cheeses, have low water content. If a person is not eating  enough, they may need to comsum additional fluids to make up the difference  for the fluids lost in the foods they are not consuming.
What are ways to prevent dehydration in seniors?

  • Provide favorite fluids during and between meals.  Offer clear liquids (things you can see through if the person has a bit of nausea)
  • Offer cold beverages and hot beverages
  • Encourage fluid intake at meals and snacks- large amounts can be overwhelming if the senior is not feeling well, so offer small amounts frequently
  • Keep fluids nearby in a cup or glass that is easy to hold. Large heavy glasses can be difficult for the senior to deal with, so offer assistance is needed
  • Remind older adults to drink sips if necessary
  • Watch for signs and symptoms of dehydration
  • Observe and record a poor intake of food or fluid
  • Offer liquids when the senior is taking their medications
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