It might be a matter of amusement when people afraid of the water consider their bodies contain it. The brain, skin, organs and even the bones are made of some percentage of water. Water carries impurities out of the body, helps to maintain body temperature, lubricates the joints and carries necessary nutrients throughout the body. Dehydration occurs when the body doesn’t get enough incoming water. Men generally need about three liters per day, while women require two liters per day to remain properly hydrated.
Hydration in the Elderly
Staying hydrated is important, as the senior body’s water content naturally decreases with age.
On the other hand, it’s not so funny when it’s our parents or other elderly family members. What isn’t generally recognized is that the senior body stores and uses its fluids (read water) differently. First, the senior body’s water content naturally decreases. Second, aging kidneys are less able to process water and sodium, resulting in inability to contain water during dehydration. Third, the bell inside our elders stops going off with age, the one reminding them that a drink of water would be a good idea. Elders’ thirst button gets turned off, too, so they simply don’t remember to drink anything.
Consequences of Dehydration in the Elderly
Physical events like slip and fall occasions are only the second act of the play. The first act begins in the mind of the senior. The embarrassment of incontinence prevents many elderly persons from drinking the proper amount of water. They are embarrassed at using the bathroom so many times. Confusion or the beginnings of dementia mean elders who simply don’t remember if they’ve eaten or drunk anything in a given time period. Also in the mind of the senior, asking for help due to inability to fetch a drink for himself is another cause of embarrassment. If elders live alone, they perhaps have trouble carrying a bottle or glass of water due to arthritis or the shaking common with other diseases. Frustration, fear and embarrassment cause many seniors to just forget it all together.
The damage done to the elderly body is manifold. Many medications seniors take for various ailments and diseases deplete their bodies of necessary fluids. Since the organs are made primarily of water, they will weaken. The brain, deprived of water, will develop headaches. Bones become brittle, skin dry and subject to injuries and fatigue. Kidney failure and seizures are common. The second act, therefore, is a weakened body susceptible to falls and coma.
How Can We Help Them?
Just saying “oh, all you need is a bottle of water” isn’t enough. Seniors won’t remember, nor will they get it themselves. They need help. Most senior hospitalizations are due to dehydration. More senior deaths are due to dehydration, not the falls it caused. Most eldercare includes monitoring the state of the senior’s hydration. It is necessary to his or her longevity. In the case of an assisted living facility, the personnel will monitor the senior’s water intake. Endeavor In-Home Care, trusted providers of companion care Chandler, AZ and the surrounding areas depend on, can help ensure the hydration and health of your loved one. Please contact us today.