Get That Rascal A Drink (of Water)!

July 28, 2017

So, you're a caregiver for a Favorite Senior Citizen (or two) in your life. Are they dehydrated?

Dehydration is a serious concern in all seasons, but it's especially concerning in the hot summer months. It's one of the leading causes of hospitalization for senior citizens.

Older adults are prone to dehydration for several reasons. Their medications are diuretics. Their sense of thirst is less acute. Their kidneys are less able to retain fluid. Or if they"re anything like my mom (a.k.a. The Rascal*), she doesn't LIKE water and she DOESN'T want YOU following her around TELLING her to drink it like she's a CHILD! (Can you hear Your Rascal in that sentence?)

It's pretty easy to tell that Your Rascal is dehydrated if you know what to look for:
- She may be overly tired and cranky. Think two year old that missed her nap.
- She has few or no tears (unlike that cranky two year old).
- She's extremely thirsty
- She may have dizziness or a headache (or both)
- She's going to the bathroom less often and her urine (yes, you should probably check even if you don't want to) is darker than normal.

Mild dehydration can be easily treated by having her drink water or sports drinks like Gatorade. However, if the dehydration is severe, you may have to take Your Rascal to the hospital for rehydration EVEN IF SHE DOESN'T WANT TO GO. (This was always a problem with The Rascal. She always tried to scare me into keeping her at home with her best "evil-eye-mom-look" even when she needed medical attention. It was really hard to get past that, but you can do it!)

There are several signs of severe dehydration.
- She is lethargic and confused - okay, this is vague since The Rascal was always confused, but I mean more confused than usual.
- Her skin won't bounce back. Gently pull the skin on the back of her hand up, hold it for a few seconds and let it go. If it doesn't bounce back right away, she's severely dehydrated.
- The dizziness is bad enough that she can't stand or walk normally (whatever's normal for her).
- She hasn't urinated in 12 or more hours.
- She has a fever or rapid heart beat.
- If you see these symptoms, CALL HER DOCTOR FOR ADVICE and get ready for a road trip!

You've gotta keep that Rascal drinking all through the day so you don't have to worry about her dehydrating. Even something with caffeine, like coffee or pop, can help with hydration. Strawberry dacquiris aren't recommended.( Except maybe the non-alcoholic ones. We tried those with The Rascal, but she wasn't going for it.) Try to keep some kind of drink where it's easy for her to reach and remind her A LOT (yes, I mean be a nag) to keep drinking it. I know from experience that it's not easy to do but it's well worth the effort. And much easier than a trip to the ER. While you're at it, make sure that you keep drinking too - your choice of beverage. Maybe a strawberry dacquiri.

I didn't make this stuff up on my own! Here's some articles on dehydration for you from real medical professionals:  Emedicine health and The Mayo Clinic

*For purposes of this article, my mom is The Rascal and your Favorite Senior Citizen will be referred to as Your Rascal. And Your Rascal is a "she". Because I say so. Don't argue.
This is not meant to be medical advice, just a heads up so that you'll get medical advice when needed.