Older people are at an increased risk of dehydration. Know what to look out for and learn how to manage the condition.

It’s common for older people to become dehydrated. Whether they simply forget to drink enough fluids, or their thirst reflex is becoming weaker, the amount of fluid consumed each day is not often enough.

So, if you are getting older – or you help care for an elderly person – it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dehydration, and how to manage it. Below, we explore why seniors are more at risk of dehydration, what the signs and symptoms are, and what you can do to help manage it.


Why are seniors at increased risk of dehydration?

Older people are more at risk of dehydration for a number of reasons:

  • As you get older, your thirst reflex diminishes – you don’t feel thirsty, so you drink less
  • The elderly also generally have less fluid in the body
  • Some older people suffer from medical conditions like dementia or a physical immobility, which inhibits them from drinking water

In addition, seniors are at higher risk of mild to moderate dehydration during prolonged heatwaves.


Signs of dehydration in the elderly

For some elderly people, a key sign of dehydration is reduced sweating under the arms. You can quickly check this by placing some tissue under the armpit for a few minutes – if it remains dry then they may be dehydrated.

Seniors may also experience the common signs and symptoms of dehydration, which include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Dark or decreased urine output
  • Sticky or dry mouth
  • Loss of skin elasticity


How to manage dehydration

If you are elderly, or care for someone who is, you can do things to help manage dehydration.

Try to make a habit of consuming fluids at regular intervals throughout the day – even if you don’t feel like it. For example, upon waking, with every meal, before showering, and so on. You could also introduce more ‘wet’ foods into the diet, such as jelly or soup.

To keep track of the volume of fluids going in and out, you could use the Hydralyte oral fluid intake chart.

Watch out for the signs and symptoms of dehydration. If any of the above signs appear, you could use an oral rehydration solution like Hydralyte to help manage the condition. Hydralyte is scientifically formulated with the correct balance of glucose and electrolytes for rapid rehydration. The formulation is based on the World Health Organisation criteria for effective rehydration. Water alone, or sugary drinks, are not as effective as Hydralyte.