Home care and nursing services in the lower mainland

Dehydration – Things to Know

Dehydration – Things to know

  • Symptoms of Dehydration
    – Thirst
    – Dry Skin
    – Fatigue
    – Muscle Cramping
    – Nausea
    – Darker-Coloured Urine
    – Dry Mucous Membranes (mouth,nose,eyes)

Chronic elderly dehydration is a common problem for many elderly patients. Dehydration is used to describe an excessive loss of water which disrupts the body’s normal function.
The Elderly feel thirst less than younger people and many have difficulties getting up on their own or may forget due to dementia to get a glass of water.
Signs of dehydration in the elderly can vary from mild to moderate to severe

  • What to look for: mild to moderate
    – Confusion and disorientation; the elderly can become confused quickly.
    – Dizziness, difficulty walking & disorientation
    – Drop in blood pressure; if the elderly are actively monitoring blood pressure you’ll be able to tell immediately if there is a drop. If they are not being monitored then you may notice the person does not sweat or produce tears. Also possible an unusually rapid heart rate, dizziness when standing quickly.
    – Skin that won’t bounce back; gently pull up the skin on the back of the hand, hold it there for a few seconds before letting go. If the skin does not bounce back within a few seconds, it is a symptom of dehydration
    – Trouble using the bathroom; if they do not urinate or defecate as often as usual, or if the urine is dark in colour, it is a sign of dehydration. Urine should be fairly light in colour and darker urine indicates a high concentration of minerals and other contaminates that urine flushes out of the body.
    – Exhaustion and changes in mood; Dehydration can make the elderly irritable and tired.
  • What to look for: severe
    •  Confusion
    • Slurring of words, (not making any sense)
    • Weakness to the point of not being able to stand
    • Coma
    • Organ failure
    • Death will eventually occur if the dehydration remains untreated
  • Steps to avoid dehydration…It can be very easily prevented
    – Mild cases of dehydration can be treated by easily drinking water. Make sure seniors know to drink even when they don’t feel thirsty. Have water on the bedside table or near a favorite chair, within arm’s reach at all times.
    Steps to take for severe cases of dehydration
    – In all of the above mentioned symptoms of severe dehydration immediate medical attention is imperative. Every year our hospitals report many cases of our elderly friends and family being treated for easily preventable dehydration.

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Carol Wilmot, Director of Nursing
Phone: 604-781-4784

Laura Hart, Office Administrator
Phone: 604-789-5447