Even though many of us tend to think of summer starting in the late spring, the official start of summer just occurred on June 21st. The weather is much warmer, even blazing hot in some locations. While it is good to be outside and get some exposure to sunlight and fresh air, overheating is a possibility and with that can come dehydration.
Dehydration is a medical concern, particularly for seniors. Here are some reasons why we need to be so attentive:
Dehydration has symptoms but some of these signs may be confused with similar conditions the senior has such as:
It is important to recognize the difference in confusion or irritability caused by dementia and sudden changes caused by dehydration. Dry skin in dehydration indicates that the elder has “stopped” sweating as their body does not have enough water to try and cool itself.
Dizziness, weakness, and rapid heartbeat can indicate that the dehydration is severe enough to decrease the blood pressure.
Early recognition may allow you to help the senior recover quickly by drinking an adequate amount of fluid. The senior should be moved into a cool area, in the shade. If symptoms are severe, medical help will be needed.
The best way to treat dehydration is to prevent it. As the senior may be unaware of the risk, unaware of the symptoms and resistant to the need to hydrate, it is your job as a caregiver to encourage compliance and notice any changes. Prevention is much easier and much healthier than post-dehydration treatment.
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