Approximately 60% of the human body is composed of water – we need water to survive. The water in our bodies cleanses us of waste, regulates our temperatures through respiration and perspiration, lubricates joints and transports nutrients through the bloodstream. If there’s not enough water in our body, then it can’t carry out all these important jobs and dehydration will occur.
Due to age-related changes to their bodies, elderly people are at an increased risk of dehydration. They may be on certain medications such as blood pressure medicine and antihistamines, which can cause dehydration. Certain medications, such as ones for diabetes, can make you sweat more, meaning their body is losing more water than normal.
As we get older we also have a decreased sense of thirst so an elderly person may not feel the need to drink fluids regularly. A decline in kidney function in older age can also mean the elderly lose more water.
Mobility issues can also mean elderly people don’t have regular access to water and have to rely on carers or loved-ones to bring it to them.
Headaches, chills, dizziness and fatigue in the elderly can be a sign of dehydration and these symptoms are what our carers look out for on a daily basis when looking after our service users.
An elderly person should be drinking five glasses of water per day, even if they don’t feel particularly thirsty. If they experience mobility issues then it is a good idea for them to keep a bottle of water beside their chair/bed at all times.
Eating fruit and vegetables and other foods with a high water content is also a good way to stay hydrated and reducing the intake of tea or coffee, fizzy drinks and any other type of caffeine can also help.