DEHYDRATION IN THE ELDERLY

Dehydration is major issue for all age groups, but especially a big concern when it comes to the elderly. As a home health nurse, most of the patients I see on a regular basis are elderly, and if they are not on any fluid restrictions due a medical concern, I always ask and make sure to educate on the importance of drinking adequate water.

Conditions such as reduced kidney function, dementia and immobility can put the elderly at a higher risk for dehydration. Also some medications such as blood pressure meds and anti depressants can cause dehydration.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms dehydration that are seen in the elderly are: Confusion / disorientation, poor skin turgor ( skin does not bounce back within atleast 3 seconds when you gently pull at it, for example on the back of the hand ), low blood pressure, dark urine, feeling of extreme tiredness.

There are things we can do to help prevent dehydration in the elderly. We can make sure to keep a bottle or glass of water available or within reach at all times ( put next to the bed, favorite chair, in their hand bag ), educate on drinking water, even though they may not feel thirsty, encourage them to drink more than just sips of water when taking medications, as this helps with proper absorption.

We can make a difference and prevent much more serious conditions if we put these small, but important steps in place, to help prevent dehydration in the elderly.

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