Dehydration: What are the causes in the elderly?

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2021 | Nursing Home Abuse |

Older adults may be at a greater risk of developing dehydration. Why? There are all kinds of reasons.

To start with, some older adults may be on medications that work as diuretics. That means that the body is flushed of fluids when those medications are taken. Unfortunately, without drinking enough, dehydration is simply a side effect of those drugs.

Other reasons for dehydration may include a lack of feeling thirsty, trouble swallowing fluids or forgetfulness.

What happens when elders don’t get enough water?

When the elderly are not hydrated enough, there are some issues that can happen. To start with, some symptoms may include feeling constipated or having poor balance. An electrolyte imbalance is also possible. Kidney issues could also begin to appear, such as the development of kidney stones.

What are the signs of dehydration that you should look for?

Some of the signs of dehydration to look for include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting lasting more than 24 hours
  • Disorientation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth

All of these, and other, symptoms may be a sign of dehydration.

What happens if dehydration isn’t treated soon enough?

Without treatment, dehydration can lead to serious complications. It’s typical to see urinary tract infections among the elderly as a result of dehydration. Other issue may include seizures because of low sodium or potassium levels, kidney failure or kidney stones, heat exhaustion or hypovolemic shock.

The good news is that treatment for dehydration is simple. Replacing the fluids in the body is an easy way to correct many of the symptoms. Drinking beverages that contain electrolytes may also help hydrate someone without throwing off their electrolyte balance. In more serious cases, hospitalization is a good idea to help monitor the patient.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, their fluid intake should be monitored. If it isn’t and they suffer from dehydration, then they could be a victim of neglect or abuse. It’s important to hold facilities responsible when they don’t provide adequate patient care, so you may want to look into your legal options.