Summertime, and the living is easy… But the pleasures of summer also increase the danger of dehydration, particularly in the senior population. In fact, according to the Health Care Financing Administration, dehydration is one of the ten most frequent causes of hospitalization for Medicare recipients.
Why are seniors more susceptible to dehydration?
- They don’t feel thirsty. As people age, they become less able to notice when they are thirsty. Add a little difficulty walking, and they may be less likely to get up and get a drink when they do feel thirsty.
- They take more medications, some of which may be dehydrating. On average, US seniors have at least two chronic conditions that require them to take medication. Some of these medications are diuretic, others cause sweating; both of these side increase the risk of dehydration.
- The kidneys, which regulate fluid in the body, start to weaken at around age 50; with the decline becoming more rapid after age 70. This means that, in seniors, the kidneys are less able to maintain the proper fluid levels in the body.
Tips for avoiding dehydration
- Smaller is better. When it comes to seniors, don’t think eight-cups-a-day. It’s better to for them to take frequent sips of water — even if they don’t feel thirsty — than drink a glass at one time. Taking small sips, rather than gulping down a full glass, also reduces the risk of choking.
Taking smaller, more frequent drinks is also good advice for seniors with mobility issues, who might be reluctant to drink enough water because they fear they will not get to a restroom in time.
- Keep it close. Because of their decreased sense of thirst, seniors should be encouraged to keep a drink near them at all times, and to make it a habit to drink regularly, even if they’re not thirsty. In fact, in a senior, thirst is a sign that they are already becoming dehydrated.
Seniors with swallowing problems can use specially-made straws. These straws have valves that prevent the drink from returning to the cup, reducing the effort required to take a sip.
- If you don’t want to drink it, eat it. Hydration does not necessarily involve drinking. Many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, contain water. Eating a salad or a soup can go a long way toward keeping a senior hydrated.
Dehydration is deadly. If a senior in your life has difficulty maintaining hydration, it may be wise for them to live in a facility with a hydration program.
At Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in the scenic beach town of Keansburg, NJ, our program includes attention to every aspect of care, including nutrition and hydration. Our pledge is to provide superior health care services in the most compassionate way. We put in place individualized care plans, robust post-acute rehabilitation, and recreational activities for every one of our residents, whether they are short-term or long-term.
Our short-term rehabilitation program is designed to get our patients back to their optimal level of functioning and independence as quickly as possible, post hospitalization. We provide a tailored program of physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as all types of specialized care under one roof.
We include our residents and families in the development and progress of their individualized care plan up until the day of their discharge, when we ensure their smooth transition back into the community.
Our long-term care program offers 24/7 skilled nursing care of the highest caliber for our residents. In addition to a varied selection of stimulating activities and recreational programs, our residents benefit from our specialty health services, exquisite dining and social services.
We offer specialized health services and programs for our residents suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s. This includes our sensory programs and activities provided in a secured environment.
Need a break to recharge? No problem. We provide an amazing Respite Care program with 24/7 medical services.
Or better yet, come see for yourself. Contact us to schedule a tour by clicking here or by calling (372) 787-8100.