Dehydration is a serious issue for elderly people, especially in the hot Australian summer. If not adequately assessed and rectified it can lead to serious issues including confusion, constipation, and even death. Here are some of the reasons that elderly people are particularly vulnerable to dehydration.
As people get older they often suffer from incontinence. As a result, they can often put off drinking enough fluid, especially if they are due to go out in public, to avoid needing to urinate. Having regular discussions around continence with a nursing service can help them to devise strategies to manage incontinence including using continence pads.
As people get older they can often also suffer an inability to move easily. This can lead to them avoiding drinking, both to avoid needing to go the kitchen and to avoid needing to go to the toilet. If mobility is becoming an issue, a nursing service can help to come up with strategies to deal with this as well including leaving easy grip water bottles filled around the house in convenient locations including beside the bed and by the couch.
If a patient is already suffering from a cognitive issue that causes forgetfulness such as dementia it is all too easy to forget to drink, especially if waiting for bodily cues such as thirst. This can often be hard for visitors who see the patient early in the morning to observe as these symptoms tend to get more severe as the day goes on. This issue can often compound on itself as dehydration can also lead to forgetfulness. Nursing visits can help to assess mental status along with hydration, and work out ways to ensure that the person has cues to drink at day and at night.
As people get older they often have complex health needs and take more than one type of medication. Some medications can have a diuretic, or water-shedding, effect. Nursing staff can play a vital role in monitoring the side effects of any medication and can recommend alternate medication or modified doses if a given medication is causing dehydration.
If an elderly person in your life is living independently but having issues with dehydration it can be useful to get them regular visits from a nursing service. This can help to determine the root cause of the dehydration and work out some strategies to manage the issue.