Ahh. Summer. The season of the annual beach trip, family picnics in the park, and backyard barbeques.

But it’s also the season for something less celebratory: higher risks of dehydration in the elderly

Of course, not getting enough fluids isn’t good for any of us, but seniors are particularly susceptible to becoming dehydrated. And while it can happen any time of year, hot weather often reminds us to make sure the elderly in our care are getting enough fluids.

Let’s take a look at how to support mom and dad in feeling their best and enjoying the season.

Is dehydration in the elderly really a concern?

Short answer: yes. Dehydration is definitely something to pay attention to if you’re involved in caretaking a senior.

Let’s take a look at some stats. Depending on how it’s defined, between 6% and 30% of people 65 years and older who are hospitalized are dehydrated. While it’s the primary cause in only 1.5% of those cases, the fatality rate is as high at 50%. Suffice it to say, supporting your loved one to maintain a healthy fluid intake is part of supporting their overall health.

Why are seniors at a higher risk for dehydration?

The truth is, both appetite and thirst tend to decline as we get older. So while mom’s body may be yearning for a cool sip of water, she may not realize it. Obviously, this can lead to your loved one drinking less than she needs to remain healthy.

And beyond not realizing they’re thirsty, seniors actually experience a diminished ability to conserve water due to declining muscle mass and kidney functions.

On top of their bodies changing, there is another contributor to senior dehydration: medications that increase dehydration risk.

Taken together, you can easily see why this means that by the time mom or dad realizes they’re thirsty, they may already be experiencing low essential fluids.

Ideas to help your senior loved one stay hydrated

So how can you help remind mom and dad to get enough fluids daily?

Support with water-rich snacks

An excellent way to help mom and dad stay hydrated is to support them in keeping water-rich foods at home, maybe helping with meal prep so they can always easily grab a healthy and hydrating snack. Watermelon is an obvious one, but most fruits and veggies are wonderful for hydration, from cucumbers to salad greens to berries. And to feed two birds with one scone: these are all healthy, nutritious foods.

Get them a water bottle

Because keeping water around and accessible, of course, helps us all drink more of it! While it’s easier to fill up a glass when they walk into the kitchen before lunch, it’s likely harder to remember it’s time to drink water if they’re out for a walk or playing tennis with a friend. Bonus: a refillable water bottle less single-use plastic, too.

Make them spa water

The truth: drinking plain water can get a little bland. What about spa water? The possibilities are endless. Pinch off a bunch of mint from the garden and drop it into a pitcher of water for the simplest version. Other tasty add ons include lemon, cucumber slices, berries, or even a splash of pure fruit juice.

Drink, Rinse, Repeat

We all do better when we integrate habits into our daily routines. Supporting mom or dad to remember, for example, to drink a glass of water after they brush their teeth each morning, or before their stretches each day, can boost the likelihood they’ll remember to make it happen.

Next Steps: Preventing Dehydration in the Elderly

Could you use more tailored guidance for helping support mom, dad, or another senior in your care to stay hydrated? 

Simply call us at 855-461-2552 or send us a message, anytime. We’re always here to support you.