Dehydration can lead to life-threatening medical problems for senior citizens. It occurs when the body does not have the proper amount of fluid to function properly. Summer temperatures are one of the main reasons for dehydration in the elderly. Hot days can cause excess sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, or low fluid intake. Left untreated, many seniors require emergency medical treatment. In some situations, dehydration can even be deadly. With dehydration posing such a threat to seniors, caregivers must be aware of the condition’s common signs and understand how to manage them.
- Mild Symptoms
If a senior is experiencing the first symptoms of dehydration, they may complain of dry skin and having a dry, sticky feeling in their mouth. They are usually extremely thirsty, have headaches and experience muscle weakness. In addition, seniors may complain of being sleepy, lightheaded, or dizzy. The most noticeable sign for caregivers and family members is a marked decrease in activities.
- Moderate Symptoms
When the mild symptoms of dehydration are left untreated, the condition will progress. Seniors may experience confusion or exhibit irritation. They will not be able to sweat, nor will their eyes produce tears. They will remain extremely thirsty, having little to no urine output. When they do urinate, the urine is dark yellow in color. Elderly people will also notice a severe drop in blood pressure, while their heart rate speeds up to a rapid rhythm.
- Severe Symptoms
When seniors become severely dehydrated, caregivers will notice some distinct physical signs. Their eyes appear to be sunken, skin loses its elastic properties, and they can spike a fever. It is possible for many seniors to become delirious and lose consciousness. Caregivers must pay strict attention to their ability to urinate. If a senior does not urinate for over eight hours, experiences a bout of severe diarrhea that lasts three days or longer, or begins experiencing unexplained seizures, time is of the essence. Medical treatment must be provided immediately. Without professional medical assistance, dehydration can be life threatening. Seniors can fall into a coma, or experience a deadly failure of body systems.
For caregivers and loved ones of the elderly, it is essential to recognize the dangers that dehydration can pose during the summer months. If they are unable to properly monitor the dehydration status, LivHOME healthcare can provide seniors and family members with the much-needed solution through in-home care.