According to Tracey Silvester, Executive Manager of Envigor Home Care, elders living with conditions such as dementia, diabetes, swallowing difficulties or taking medications such as diuretics or laxatives are particularly vulnerable.
“Without adequate hydration, an older person has an increased risk of hospitalisation and mortality. More commonly occurring symptoms include diminished mental performance including memory, the ability to concentrate, reaction times and attention spans,” says Tracey.
“Feelings of tiredness can accompany dehydration, along with low blood pressure, sensations of weakness and dizziness which can lead to an increase in falls.”
Recognising the early signs of dehydration can make a critical difference in your health and wellbeing as you age. These are the signs to look out for:
The average human body is 65 per cent water but the human brain is nearly 80 per cent water so it makes sense that the brain is the first to suffer when dehydration hits. As your brain tissue loses water, the brain begins to shrink, causing pain. Blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain are also affected, which can cause blood vessels to dilate as well as swelling and inflammation. A headache can be a sign of dehydration so try drinking a glass of water before resorting to painkillers.
Dry, itchy eyes, a dry mouth and skin all indicate your fluid levels may not be as high as they need to be.
This is possibly the quickest and easiest measure of dehydration. Light coloured urine indicates your hydration level is adequate and that there is enough water to flush toxins out of the body. Dark coloured urine indicates low levels of water in the body. Time to top up!
The electrolytes in your body become unbalanced when fluid levels drop. Low hydration levels can also affect your blood circulation. This can leave you feeling dizzy, suddenly tired or a bit muddled.
Our brains are incredible and capable of amazing things, however, the hypothalamus, the area in the brain responsible for processing feelings of hunger or thirst, sometimes gets the two confused. If you’re eating a balanced diet but feeling hungry at odd times, you might not be getting enough water.
This blog post was first published on Seasons Aged Care.