On average, how much liquid do you drink on any given day?
Proper hydration is something we all do to maintain good digestion, especially during the hot Summer months. In later years the risks of dehydration become greater so all the more the reason to drink enough water to maintain good wellbeing. In the UK, about 20 percent of hospital emissions can be attributed to dehydration within the elderly population. Forgetting to hydrate properly could put you at considerable risk from a broad array of health conditions ranging from urinary tract infections to kidney stones. A lack of adequate fluid intake can also increase the likelihood of falling. Because older people tend to store water in their kidneys less efficiently, it is far easier to become dehydrated so that fluid levels are not in balance for normal bodily function.
N.B. Alcohol and Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea will not do anything to improve hydration and could even exacerbate the problem. Some of the medicines taken for health conditions will also affect metabolism as certain types can act as a diuretic absorbing or flushing out water faster than normal. It is not unusual for the need to drink to be neglected during a busy day. However, as we grow older, adequate hydration becomes more of an issue.
Whilst mild hydration can go undetected, it is important to identify the underlying symptoms early enough so as to prevent more serious complications arising later, because dehydration is sometimes confused with other health conditions or possibly with the side effects of medications.
Mild dehydration symptoms
- Dry mouth
- Dark-colored urine or very small amount of urine
- Muscle cramps in limbs
- Feeling weak or unwell
- Being sleepy or irritable
Serious dehydration symptoms
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty walking
- Fast, but weak pulse
- Bloated stomach
- Wrinkled skin with no elasticity – try the “pinch test”
- Dry and sunken eyes
- Breathing faster than normal
- Severe cramping and muscle contractions in the body
Dehydration is a problem for older people with many ending up in A&E with fainting/ dizziness symptoms. We have some tips to help your loved ones increase their fluid intake: