Dehydration in Elderly People
Signs and Symptoms

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Similar to young children, acute dehydration in elderly adults is common due to their higher susceptibility.

Some of the reasons for this include:

Many have lost their thirst signal. Thus, they simply won’t drink water because they don’t feel thirsty, even though they may be severely dehydrated

  • Many people who are elderly have kidneys that do not work as well as they used to
  • Some choose not to drink because of incontinence
  • Others take medications or diuretics that increase urine output
  • Some have pain or other physiological reasons why it is difficult to either get up to get a drink of water or to hold a glass
  • Many simply don’t understand the importance of drinking fluids.

Symptoms of Acute Dehydration

According to the National Institutes of Health, symptoms of dehydration in elderly people may include the following:

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Little or no urine output
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Lack of tear production
  • Lethargy
  • Sunken eyes

Prevention and Treatment

When healthy, learn to drink at least 6 to 10 glasses of water a day. Drink more when you are exercising or sweating due to warmer weather.

At the earliest signs of illness, begin to drink more fluids, understanding that your fluid needs are greater during an illness, especially if accompanied by fever, diarrhea or vomiting.

Do NOT wait for the symptoms of dehydration to appear before drinking fluids.

If mild to moderate symptoms of dehydration do appear, replenishing fluids will often be sufficient treatment.

However, for moderate to severe dehydration, hospitalization and intravenous fluids may be necessary for elderly adults to quickly replenish fluids lost.

Untreated severe dehydration can cause brain damage, seizures or even death.

Thus, it is important to take it seriously and call the doctor, especially when symptoms are present with vomiting and diarrhea.

Further reading . . .

Dehydration Symptoms: Mild, Moderate, Severe

Return from Dehydration in Elderly Adults to Dehydration Effects

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