As I write this article, we are not experiencing
particularly warm weather in Iowa. Its 64 degrees in June but as soon as I
blink itll be 101. Hot weather brings up the topic for this months
informational article. However, hydration is not the only concern for seniors
when the weather is warm.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to
dehydration. Some of them include diarrhea, vomiting, overheating, diabetes,
diuretic medications, high fever and excessive sweating. If you experience any
of these, be aware and make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids.
You may ask yourself: What is hydration? Well, it
refers to a persons body water balance. Dehydration, which is the real
problem, occurs when people dont have enough fluid in their bodies. Many
seniors have problems with hydration. Dehydration is both a serious problem and
easy to prevent. If not treated it could result in death.
What puts seniors at greater risk for dehydration?
First, is that the ability to feel thirst lessens with age; seniors may not
realize when they need to drink more. They may also be using the bathroom more
frequently which means they are losing more fluid. Another factor is that as we
age we lose muscle and gain fat. Muscle holds water, fat does not. As we age the
amount of water in the body decreases. In addition, medications that increase
urination or help with constipation can also put seniors at risk for
So what should you look for in order to know if you
are dehydrated? Symptoms include thirst, dry mouth, dark yellow urine, fatigue
and irritability. If it progresses to dizziness, blackouts when sitting up or
standing, confusion, muscle weakness or cramping, sunken eyes, low blood
pressure or increased heart rate you need to go to the ER or contact your
doctor immediately: these are life threatening symptoms.
If youre not a big fan of dehydration there are steps
you can take to be proactive: dont wait until youre thirsty to drink, by this
time youre already experiencing dehydration.
Try carrying a water bottle with you so you can take
drinks frequently, aim for a minimum of eight cups of water each day. When the
temperature rises, increase your fluid intake, too. This will help replenish
what is lost when we sweat. We should all start and end the day with a cup of
water. Do not substitute alcohol or caffeinated drinks for water. Last but not
least, know the signs and symptoms of dehydration so that you can take action