How to prevent, detect and treat dehydration in older adults
Be aware of medications and conditions
Certain medications act as a diuretic, causing excess loss of fluids and electrolytes, so be sure to encourage more fluid intake when medication is being taken. Incontinence is a common condition in the elderly and can make someone purposely limit their fluid intake due to fear of having an accident. Encourage those you support to speak to their GP if this is a concern.
Recognise the signs and symptoms
Early symptoms of dehyfration include thirst, headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue and lethargy, infrequent and dark urine - be sure to drink something immediately.
Advanced symptoms include diarrea and vomiting, confusion and blood in your stools. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or someone in your care, it is important to contact the GP immediately for medical intervention.
Encouraging fluid intake
Here's just a few ways you can encourage older adults to increase their fluid intake throughout the day.
- Drink little and often throughout the day
- Drinking through a straw (this can be easier)
- Eating water-dense fruits
- Drinking decaffinated teas and fruit juices & milk
- Mobility supoport when going to the bathroom
- Addressing incontinence concerns