Preventing Life-Threatening Dehydration

Why does hydration matter?

In older adults, adequate fluid consumption has been associated with fewer falls, less constipation, better recoveries in orthopedic patients, reduced risk of bladder cancer in men and lower rates of fatal heart disease.

Dehydration can often lead to adverse effects from medications, urinary tract and respiratory infections, delirium, renal failure, seizure, hypo- and hyperthermia.

In older adults with other health problems, it can precipitate emergency or repeated hospitalizations and increased mortality rates among older adults.

The following tips should be practiced for preventing dehydration:

  • Identify and treat correctable causes of dehydration such as vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Observe the color of the urine: Dark, concentrated urine can be a sign of dehydration.
  • Provide glasses and cups that are not too large or heavy to handle, and have straws available at the bedside.
  • During hot weather, be especially attentive to replacing excessive lost fluid.
  • Make sure water is within reach.

For older adults, it’s essential to have consistent fluid intake throughout the day, especially because they should not consume large amounts of fluid at one time.

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