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The Danger of Dehydration

WaterDid you know that dehydration is a leading cause of hospitalization for seniors? With summer temperatures rising, it’s important to make sure your loved one is staying well hydrated.

Dehydration is more than just “feeling thirsty.” It’s a serious senior health issue that has been linked to confusion, impaired cognition, and falls. Left untreated for too long, advanced dehydration can cause seizures, heat injuries, kidney failure, and even coma or death.

Why seniors are at risk

As we age, our bodies are more prone to dehydration because they are less adaptable to changes in temperature and don’t conserve water as well. Seniors are also less able to recognize the sensation of thirst.

Certain medications and medical conditions can affect the body’s ability to retain fluids and electrolytes. Some older adults may have difficulty swallowing, and those with dementia may forget to eat or drink regularly. If your loved one has mobility or incontinence problems, it’s possible that he or she may be purposely limiting fluids to avoid accidents or having to get to the bathroom.

Know the signs

It may seem odd, but thirst isn’t the first sign to monitor—by the time your loved one feels thirsty, he or she may already be dehydrated. Instead, look for these early signs of dehydration:

  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth, tongue or lips
  • Poor skin elasticity
  • Muscle cramps

Decreased blood pressure, increased pulse or respiration, sleepiness and lethargy can also be warning signs of dehydration. If you help your loved one with toileting, check the urine color afterwards (a well-hydrated person will have clear or pale yellow urine.)

Hearthstone’s hydration tips

Keeping your senior well-hydrated is all about fluid intake. Many doctors suggest 64 ounces of fluid daily as a rough guideline*. Here are some simple ways to boost your loved one’s water intake:

  • Always keep a glass or bottle of water nearby, even at night
  • Offer fluids regularly throughout the day
  • Drink a full glass of water with each meal, snack and dose of medication
  • Set “drink alarm” reminders throughout the day
  • Offer low-sugar electrolyte drinks or popsicles for variety

If your senior isn’t a huge fan of plain water, try adding slices of fresh fruit, serving flavored carbonated water, or a mixture of half juice-half water. Remember that almost any non-alcoholic liquid counts toward the daily total, including tea, coffee and soups. Finally, add fruits and vegetables with a high water content to the menu, such as melons, blueberries, pineapple, pears, grapefruit, cucumber, celery, lettuce, and tomatoes.

*Keep in mind that the amount of fluid needed can change based on heat, humidity, medications, and individual health. Talk to your loved one’s doctor, as some medical conditions, including heart failure and kidney or liver disease, may require restrictions on fluid intake.

Healthy living at Hearthstone

Of course, good hydration is only one part of a healthy lifestyle. At Hearthstone Senior Living, our communities are designed to maximize seniors’ well-being, as we strive to nurture the whole person-physically, mentally, and spiritually.

To get a first-hand experience of our locally based, family operated communities, we invite you to call and set up a personal tour and lunch at Hearthstone. We look forward to meeting you.

Hearthstone of Beaverton:


12520 SW Hart Road

Beaverton, OR 97008


Hearthstone at Murrayhill:


10880 SW Davies Road

Beaverton, OR 97008

Take the next step

Hearthstone at Murrayhill is an ideal choice for seniors who want to live in a social environment with few responsibilities, while having access to quality care and a little “extra help” when it’s needed.

You’re invited to take a personal tour, enjoy a meal, and see all that Hearthstone at Murrayhill has to offer. Call (503) 521-3000, or click below to set up your visit.

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