Dehydration is the condition in which water in the body drops below normal levels, usually caused by illness, sweating or by not drinking enough. When your body’s water content is too low, it causes damage quickly. Mild or moderate dehydration is easy to recover from, but severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention. 
The issue of dehydration should not be taken lightly no matter one’s age; yet seniors are at a greater risk for dehydration than other age groups. 



It’s important for caregivers to recognize the signs of dehydration in seniors, treat it promptly, and know how to prevent it from occurring. Dehydration can be mild or serious. It should be noted that mild dehydration in seniors can be easily managed if promptly attended to; while serious dehydration can lead to other serious health conditions. The more reason dehydration should be better prevented before occurrence. 
Caregivers should watch for these signs:


Muscle cramps in limbs
Sleepiness or irritability
Crying but with few or no tears
Dry mouth or dry tongue with thick saliva
Dark-colored urine or very small amount of urine



  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Difficulty walking
  • Bloated stomach
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid but weak pulse
  • Wrinkled skin with no elasticity
  • Dry and sunken eyes with few or no tears
  • Breathing faster than normal
  • Severe cramping and muscle contractions in the body




Naturally, our body has a way of telling us it needs water and how much water it needs. Pitifully, as we age, our ability to thirst wears out. When the body needs water, one may not even realize it because one doesn’t feel thirsty like it used to be. Consequently, elderly people do not thirst as easily as younger people do. There are other reasons that cause dehydration in seniors. Here they are:
LOWER KIDNEY FUNCTION: the kidneys’ ability to remove toxins from the blood progressively weakens with age. This means the kidneys are not as efficient in concentrating urine in less water, this makes them lose more water; leading to a fluid imbalance in the body, hence dehydration.


MEDICATIONS: Seniors are prone to have health conditions or take medicines that increase their risk of dehydration – like diuretics, blood pressure medications that flush water from the body, or medications that cause side effects like diarrhea or excessive sweating.


COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT: If a senior suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, he is at a greater risk for dehydration because he may not remember to drink when he needs to. Even if the body sends thirst signals, decreased cognitive ability may not help his brain to understand the signals or may miss them completely.



Being well hydrated is necessary for many medications to work properly for seniors. Consequently, dehydration should be promptly treated or better prevented in seniors.
Dehydration in seniors can also cause some serious health conditions such as:
  • Seizures
  • Heat stroke
  • Fainting or passing out
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Blood clot complications
  • Kidney stones and kidney failure
  • Hypovolemic shock – when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in the body.


It’s important for caregivers to recognize the signs of dehydration in seniors, treat it promptly, and know how to prevent it from occurring. They can make use of the following tips to help their loved ones stay hydrated.


DRINKING WATER: The best way to prevent dehydration is to urge your loved one to drink plenty of water, though the increase in in-take should be gradual. You should also keep in mind that drinking soda and coffee may increase the effects of dehydration in seniors or worsen their condition. Advise your loved one to stick to water, milk, or juice.


SET REMINDERS: If your loved one doesn’t feel thirsty very often, set reminders on your phone or use a timer. Make sure your loved one drink a certain amount of water each time the reminder goes off. By drinking water consistently throughout the day, dehydration can easily be prevented.


DIET PLAN: There are many fruits and vegetables with high water content and contribute to staying hydrated. If your loved one finds drinking more water difficult, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into his diet. Other foods that promote hydration include: Broth, Yogurt, Soup, Jellies,etc.


ENHANCE THE WATER: If your loved one gets bored drinking plain water all day, try infusing it with fruit. You can add lemon, lime, or orange to the water so it tastes better. You can also add herbs like mint or basil if your loved one prefers a stronger taste than fruit provides.


TALK TO A DOCTOR: If after trying the tips above and your loved ones still experience dehydration, talk to their doctor. A healthcare professional can ask questions about their diet, habits, and medications to determine the cause of your dehydration. It is also very important to talk with their doctor to find out how much water is best for their body


Aside from avoiding serious health conditions, helping a loved one staying well hydrated has its benefits too. Some of them are:
Better Digestive Health. Seniors who get enough water tend to suffer less constipation, use less laxatives, and, for men, it may reduce the risk of bladder cancer. Less constipation may also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
Improved Heart Health. Drinking at least five 8-ounce glasses of water daily reduces the risk of fatal coronary heart disease among seniors.
Proper hydration also helps to reduce the risk of falling. Caregivers should make sure their loved ones have water by their side at all times. Encourage frequent drinking, but in moderate amounts.




Seniors are at a higher risk of dehydration due to physiological changes that occur as we age. Many conditions and increased physical or mental weakness also complicate the issue. 
Drinking the right amount of water can go a long way to help regulate the body temperature, gets nutrients to the body cells, and keeps the organs in the body healthy. Hence, caregivers and family members need to be aware of the common risk factors, the consequences, how to promptly recognise the signs of dehydration; and above all help to prevent dehydration in seniors, even before it occurs at all or becomes uncontrollable.








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