Dehydration is a common cause of hospitalizations for people over the age of 65. As we age the sense of thirst diminishes, so by the time the body needs hydration a senior may not realize they are dehydrated. Although the standard recommended amount of water per day is 64 ounces (Cleveland Clinic, 2018), this is a base minimum, everyone should aim to drink half of their body weight in the number of ounces consumed per day. With seniors there are outlying reasons why they may become dehydrated such as certain medications, including diuretics, antihistamines, laxatives, anti-psychotics, and corticosteroids that cause frequent urination and depletion of fluid balance and electrolytes. Certain medical conditions can also affect fluid intake such as dementia patients forgetting to eat or drink water or difficulty swallowing. Seniors with incontinence may also refuse or limit drinks to avoid accidents.
Signs of Severe Dehydration include:
· Little or no urination
· Dark or amber colored urine
· Dry skin
· Irritability, dizziness, and confusion
· Low blood pressure
· Rapid breathing and heart rate
· Weak pulse
· Cold hands and feet (Leeflang, nd)
· Muscle cramps
Recommendations to help Seniors hydrate
Although water is best, drinking plain water all day can be boring for most of us and sometimes ways to prevent dehydration in seniors can sometimes be challenging, so try to include a variation in hydration through out the day and even purchase a special cup, water bottle, or glass that a aenior can keep next to them throughout the day. Water can be flavored with fruits or cucumber slices, and even premade sugar free flavored drink mixes. There are also foods that can be hydrating, but it is important to check with a seniors Doctor if you have any questions especially if they have pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure (Daily Caring Team , nd).
Foods with High Water Content
Ingredient Percent Water Serving Size
Cucumber 96% 1 cup peeled and sliced
Tomato 94% 1 medium
Watermelon 92% 1 cup diced, or 10 balls
Bell pepper 92% 3/4 cup sliced
Grapes 92% 1 cup
Cantaloupe 90% 1 small wedge
Orange 97% 1 medium
Blueberries 85% 1 cup
Apple 84% 1 medium
Although it may be difficult to serve raw fruits and vegetables to a senior, mixing these foods into recipes, soups, sandwiches, yogurt, or cereal may be a viable option. Just be sure to stay in communication with the Senior as to their fluid intake, activity levels and fluid out puts, as well as, contacting their Doctor if needed.
About Heather Petrie
Heather is the Clinical Coordinator and Clinical Liaison for Vibrant Living Services, she is also a Holistic Nutritionist and is currently working on a Bachelors (BSN) in nursing.
Cleveland Clinic. (2018, Nov. 29). Health & Wellness Tips . Retrieved from Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/drink-up-dehydration-is-an-often-overlooked-health-risk-for-seniors/
Daily Caring Team . (nd). 6 IDEAS TO GET SENIORS TO DRINK MORE WATER. Retrieved from Daily Caring : https://dailycaring.com/6-ideas-to-get-seniors-to-drink-more-water/
Leeflang, J. (nd). Hydration Tips for Seniors. Retrieved from Aging Care: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hydration-tips-for-seniors-205594.htm