Much of New Mexico falls into what is known as a high desert. That means we have both warm weather and high altitude compared to many parts of the United States or even two areas across southern New Mexico. With these things in mind hydration in the elderly becomes critical.
The heat, frequent winds, and higher altitude all put additional stresses on the human body. To compensate, it is important that we all drink more water but that is especially vital in the elderly. It’s estimated that 17% to 28% of the elderly are dehydrated; it’s a frequent case of hospitalization for them as well.
Hydration Needs Change As You Age
As people age, they may not recognize that they are thirsty in the same way they did when they were younger. The brain and muscles don’t communicate as well in the elderly, so the body’s need for liquid doesn’t trigger in the same way.
If you or an elderly family member are still living at home, keep a reusable drink container near you while watching TV, reading, or working on a puzzle. Some find it helpful to flavor the water with a slice of fruit.
When taking medication, drink a full glass of water instead of having just a sip to swallow the pills. Increase high liquid foods like juice, gelatin, and soups.
In general, physicians recommend 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. Coffee and teas are excluded from that. Even in the elderly, that 6 to 8 glasses is a goal to try to achieve. Those who do not take in enough water may experience symptoms of dehydration, reduced urination, urinary tract infections, even signs of disorientation.
Watching For Signs of Dehydration
At BeeHive Home Care of New Mexico, our trained caregivers are very attuned to the seniors in their care. They notice dark or unusual smelling urine, sunken eyes or extremely dry skin, signs the senior is not drinking enough water to stay properly hydrated. They can encourage the client to increase water consumption. We also have a care plan in place to communicate concerns to family members.
We understand it’s not easy for family members as your loved one ages. If we can be of help with assisted living care for a senior you love or provide resources to assist you in the care of your loved one, please reach out.