The importance of hydration in the elderly
Today in our blog we will talk about the importance of hydration in the elderly. As we age, the water content in the body decreases and the risk of dehydration increases, and this can have very serious consequences. Dehydration is directly associated with increased mortality rates among older hospitalized patients and may precipitate emergency hospitalization as well as increase the risk of repeated hospital stays.
The process of aging is associated with various physiological changes that may affect the ability to maintain water balance. These changes include decreased total body water associated with loss of lean body mass, decreased thirst sensation and decreased ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine. Dehydration is the most frequent hydroelectrolytic disorder in the elderly, also the chronic pathologies and pharmacological treatments of the elderly determine a greater vulnerability of this population to dehydration. For all this, it is necessary to pay close attention to the intake of liquids from the elderly. Older people lose too much water through their urine, even though it does not remove many waste materials. Therefore, they will need more water to excrete the same amount of urea or sodium. These changes in homeostatic capacity are also modified by the presence of some diseases such as hypertension, cardio and cerebrovascular diseases or by the consumption of drugs. Decreased thirst may be the most important factor, as it leads to a much lower fluid intake than in earlier stages of life. Dehydration is associated with hypotension, increased body temperature, mental confusion, headache and irritability. In addition, lack of fluid may be the main contributor to constipation, which is very common in older people, and whose treatment includes increased consumption of liquids that stimulate peristalsis. In older people water becomes a real necessity to which special attention has to be paid and in many cases it is even necessary to prescribe its consumption as if it were a drug.
What measures can we take to maintain good hydration in the elderly?
If you are in the care of an elderly person, you may be interested in how you can maintain good hydration, so from Excelan Clinic, we have decided to offer you these tips to help you achieve this:
- Offer fluids throughout the day. (Water, infusions, juices, broths, milkshakes, etc.).
- Make sure that the water is accessible throughout the day (on the bedside table or next to the chair) with suitable containers for consumption
- Encourage water consumption with medicines
- Encourage him to drink one or two glasses of some drink during the meal.
- Increase your intake of foods such as soups, fruits and vegetables that contain 80% -90% water and are a source of essential nutrients.
- Offer your favorite drinks
- Monitor the temperature of the room where the elderly spend most of the time, it is proven that an excess of temperature favors dehydration and loss of fluids.
- Ensure that there is a minimum consumption of 1,5 L in periods where the risk of dehydration is higher, for example when there are high climatological temperatures or in certain pathologies.
Good hydration in the elderly, coupled with a balanced diet and moderate physical activity, is critical to achieving a healthy lifestyle.