Summer's here once more and it's sunny and warm outside (well it was when I wrote this!). Although this is a lovely time of year we need to take certain precautions to protect ourselves and in particular the elderly relatives or friends we help to support.
Water is essential for life and accounts for about 60% of our body weight. It performs crucial roles such as carrying nutrients around the body, removal of waste products, the lubrication of joints and the regulation of body temperature.
On a warm day (or even in an overly warm home) it is very easy to become dehydrated if we don't take in enough fluid. A decrease in body weight of just 2 - 3% through the loss of water is enough to reduce our ability significantly. More than 15% can be fatal!
Some common signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include;
- Increased thirst
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Reduced concentration
- Muscle tiredness
- Dark yellow or brown urine
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Decreased urine output
Older people have an increased risk of dehydration because the thirst sensation lessens with age and some elderly people may avoid drinking because of issues with continence. Persistent dehydration can lead to urinary tract infections (UTI)'s which can cause severe confusion and be quite unnerving (for you and your family) if you don't realise what is happening.
We should all encourage older people to drink fluid at regular intervals throughout the day to maintain optimal levels of hydration. And don't worry about drinking plain 'water' if you don't like it, as long as the fluid we drink is non alcoholic, it will serve to hydrate us just the same.