This summer is off to a bang with the heat in Vancouver! We have been riding a heat wave for the last few weeks and with the higher than normal temperatures, it is easy to become dehydrated. Not getting enough fluids, especially when it is hot outside, can pose serious health problems for anyone, but older adults are at particular risk for dehydration. As we age the body’s ability to conserve water is reduced, which can make it difficult to adapt to fluctuating temperatures. Certain medical conditions and medications can also affect a senior’s ability to retain fluids. For example, individuals with dementia may forget to eat and drink, and in more advanced stages may have difficulty swallowing. Below are tips we have created to help you and your loved one get through the summer heat, including what to watch out for.
1. Signs and symptoms of Dehydration
It is important to watch for early signs of dehydration such as headaches, constipation, dry mouth, lethargy and muscle cramps. Advanced signs of dehydration are as follows:
Little or no urination
Dark or amber-colored urine
Dry skin that stays folded when pinched
Irritability, dizziness, or confusion
Low blood pressure
Rapid breathing and heartbeat
Cold hands and feet
2. Preventing Dehydration
It's important to remind seniors not to wait until they are thirsty to drink water! Make sure your loved one takes in at least 8 glasses of water a day and eats food with high water content, such vegetables and fruit. Water should increase if the weather is super hot and your loved one is sweating and urinating more frequently. Also, consider adding electrolytes for those extra warm days.
If a senior refuses to drink plain water consider both savory and sweet flavors such as warm chicken, beef or vegetable broth, which can be a good source of fluids and electrolytes. Popsicles and smoothies may be more enticing options to boost hydration for those seniors with a sweet tooth.
If you are the main caregiver for your loved one, you know dehydration is just one of many constant concerns you have. At Home Instead Vancouver, our caregivers are trained in recognizing signs of dehydration quickly. We can help your loved one stick to a recommended hydration schedule, as well as help improve their overall quality of life through healthy eating, exercise and other activities. Call our office today for a free consult.