Seniors: how to avoid dehydration?
The risk of dehydration increases as people age. In this article, a geriatric physician unveils how to anticipate the symptoms
By Dr. Gabriel Abitbol, Geriatric Physician, Paris
“As a geriatric physician, I am always very aware of the risk of dehydration in elderly patients, especially when it is hot outside. They are more vulnerable when they are isolated from others. I highly recommend that a family member or caretaker visit them regularly or at least call them once a day to check in with them.
Furthermore, we must never underestimate the amount of water they lose on a daily basis just because they are not very active or do not claim to be very thirsty. This is a trap a lot of families fall into. A healthy elderly people need to drink 1.5 liters of water per day, and in periods of extreme heat, they need to drink more water: a 200ml glass of water regularly during the day. They should never be afraid of drinking too much!
If it is difficult for them to drink just water, you can propose other beverages, such as sparkling water, teas, flavored water, natural fruit juices or cold soups. The important thing is that they drink enough! You can also suggest fruits that are rich in water, such as watermelon, melon or peaches… You can also give them yogurt to eat: in general they love it and it contains 90% water.
If they have difficulty swallowing, have them drink flavored thickened drinks or thicken any liquids. Follow these simple rules to help them avoid extreme heat. During periods of intense heat, close the blinds and curtains, and open the windows to allow air to flow throughout the house. Go out preferably in the morning or the evening. Stay in the shade. Wear a hat in the afternoon. Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing. Use a water moister, fan or washcloth to cool down and refresh the skin.
If, despite following all these safety measures, you still see signs of dehydration (dry mouth, abnormal fatigue, dark urine, dizziness and/or headaches), have them lie down, cool down and rehydrate. Call for immediate medical assistance if the elderly person becomes severely dehydrated (lack of sweating, little or no urination, sunken eyes, fever, delirium, low blood pressure and/or rapid heartbeat)or the situation gets progressively worse
Drinking enough water on a regular basis is a simple, but essential, safety measure that will help you avoid serious complications!”