Elderly Dehydration Symptoms, Recovery and Prevention

June 6th, 2019 | Senior Health

As summer approaches and the weather gets hot, everyone needs to drink more fluids. This can be especially true for the seniors, because fluid and electrolyte deficiencies are among the most common issues seniors face.

Dehydration can exacerbate situations common for seniors, including:

  • Swallowing disorders caused by dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s
  • Obesity and diabetes
  • Being bedridden
  • Multiple chronic diseases
  • Illnesses like vomiting or diarrhea
  • Taking multiple prescription medications
  • Diminished drinking due to incontinence or fear of incontinence


Symptoms of dehydration: knowing what to look for

Because seniors typically aren’t as thirsty as younger adults, it makes the warning signs of early dehydration hard to spot. Identifying these symptoms can be hard to diagnose, which is why the importance of hydration for seniors can’t be understated.

Aside from checking the color of urine for changes (dark urine or bladder problem symptoms), you should be familiar with what to look for. One of the easiest and fastest ways to check hydration in the elderly is to see how much the skin on the hand snaps back into place. If it doesn’t snap back immediately, you’re probably dehydrated. Other signs can include:

  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth or nose
  • Fatigue
  • Cramping
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Inability to sweat
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low urine output
  • Constipation

Simply drinking enough water is essential to maintain normal health and body function, and metabolism. In seniors, it also helps with:

  • Preventing urinary tract infections in the elderly
  • Constipation relief and constipation treatment
  • Kidney stone treatment and prevention
  • Reducing medicine toxicity
  • Reducing the risk of falls
  • Shorter stays in rehab facilities


Helpful tips to prevent dehydration in seniors:

It’s always better – and healthier – to take steps to prevent dehydration. There are several things you can do to ensure you aren’t suffering from dehydration.

  1. Modify diet

           Simply drinking enough water is important, but you should also eat foods that hydrate as the body digests them. Hydrating foods include:

  • Fruit or vegetable juices
  • Gelatins that are mainly water
  • Soups with vegetables and meat proteins
  • Fruits and vegetables like melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, and apples
  1. Make hydration part of the daily routine

One of the simplest ways is to keep water bottles full and handy all day. Know if you take dehydrating medications, such as antihistamines, blood pressure medication, diuretics, laxatives, and chemotherapy. You should also:

  • Monitor the early signs of dehydration
  • Ensure you consume fluids every 1.5 hours a day
  • Consume fluids during routine events (like before and after showering)
  • Keep oral rehydration solutions available
  1. Avoid coffee, alcohol and high-protein drinks

In large quantities, these beverages can be more damaging than you think. Diuretic beverages cause the elderly to lose more water than they can take in, leading to dehydration or even making it worse.

  1. Drink as much water as possible

The age-old adage to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses fits here. Statistics show that drinking more water can decrease risk of coronary disease, as well as reduce swelling of the brain, decrease risk of kidney failure, and even prevent seizures.


Legend Senior Living® understands the importance of proper hydration education for the elderly, as well as implementing hydration programs to include drinking a wide variety of beverages all day, not only at meals but in between meals, too.

We understand that these kinds of lifestyle changes can be difficult. If you have any questions or are interested in more information, give us a call and we can help you set up a tour of our respite care facilities to keep you or your loved ones healthy and happy.