Dehydration can be a big problem for seniors, especially for those who live in warmer climates during the summer time. These areas often see high heat indexes for numerous days every summer and can make it difficult to stay hydrated when away from air-conditioned areas. The biggest questions for most seniors is what they should do to prevent dehydration and what they should drink to combat this dangerous concern.
How Does Dehydration Happen?
Dehydration happens often in the summer because of the increased heat and humidity. Seniors may not even realize that they are thirsty or that they are losing lots of moisture through their skin and through breathing. Without replenishing this lost water by constantly drinking water even when one is not thirsty, the cells in the body can quickly become dehydrated.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration in Seniors?
The first signs that a senior is dehydrated can be easy to miss because they can be painted as other common problems. The individual may be tired or have a headache. The tongue may feel dry, and he or she may feel constipated. As the problem progresses, the individual may become dizzy or confused, have a fast heartbeat or respiration and may have very dark and infrequent urine.
How Should Dehydration Be Treated?
Mild dehydration can be treated by drinking water. The more one is sweating, the more one should drink. For more moderate dehydration, the individual may want to try a drink with added electrolytes, such as a sports drink. Alcohol and caffeine should never be used to rehydrate a body because they actually cause dehydration themselves. Options such as Gatorade should only be used for rehydrating after excessive sweating and should not be used for rehydrating following illness. All seniors should aim for at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day and may need more than that when spending time outside during the summer.