The Residents’ Association is always considering the health of all residents. The recent spate of extremely hot weather has seen increased incidences of dehydration, which is the cause of many other problems that people don’t always realise.
We begin our lives as 100% water and as we age, muscle mass is replaced by fat tissue, and the percentage of body mass that is water, drops to around 45 to 65 percent. This makes the elderly more vulnerable to dehydration as our kidney function decreases with age, and significant hormonal changes occur. The feeling of ‘thirst ‘ diminishes as we age, and thus does not drive the desire to drink water.
Many elderly people also live with chronic illness and the use of medications that contribute to dehydration are more widely used by seniors.
Dehydration can cause and contribute to:
- Confusion, mood changes, slow reaction times
- Impaired cognitive function
- Low blood pressure
- Salivary dysfunction
- Poor control of hyperglycaemia in diabetes
- Dry skin
- Dry eyes
- Dry nasal passages
- Dry or cracked lips.
Dehydration can be fatal if not treated, and imposes a significant burden on hospital resources. To help avoid becoming dehydrated consider developing new habits such as:
- Have a glass of water on rising for the day
- When you have a coffee or tea have a glass of water also
- Have a glass of water with meals
- Try sparkling water instead of wine
- Add a squeeze of lime or lemon to your water for variety
- Eat more fruit and vegetables, as they hold water and contribute to your water intake each day
- Take a bottle of water with you when you go out and aim to drink it before you get home.
Add a squeeze of lime or lemon to your water for some variety.
Treatment for early signs of dehydration:
- Stop what you’re doing and if outside, find some shade
- Splash yourself with water
- Put a cool, wet cloth on your face and neck
- Drink water slowly, small sips at a time
- If you don’t feel better within half an hour, or if you have other symptoms such as not being able to pass urine, vomiting, weakness or cramping, then see a doctor or go to hospital immediately.
Illness or health conditions:
If you have an illness such as vomiting, diarrhoea or a fever, then ensure you keep your body hydrated by drinking water. Some conditions such as bladder infections and urinary tract or kidney stones, also need increased water intake. Conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may require limited water intake. Speak to your doctor about how much you should drink.