Aging Parents: Dehydration Dangers

Warm weather brings increasing concern about dehydration, and it is especially worrisome for older seniors. I am thinking more about this today after reading an update at the Life With Father blog that describes how difficult it can be to get an elderly parent to drink enough liquids.

Dehydration is a huge concern for elderly individuals and is a big cause of hospitalization. The article Why Water Matters – Preventing Dehydration in Seniors, from the web site GrayTimes, provides an overview of the problem. Through trial and error, I’ve figured out most of the information contained in this article. I do wish I could locate better resources. For the past year I have searched for materials, designed expressly for elderly adults like our parents, to help them understand exactly what is happening to their bodies and why they must be vigilant.

Drinking liquids seems to decrease as parents grow more frail, and the range of their medications complicates the situation. Our most successful strategy, and it is limited success, has been to keep bottled water and straws in every room of the house and apartment.

A Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) story, Aging Brains Increase Seniors’ Risk of Dehydration, describes research (abstract – highly technical) conducted at Australia’s Howard Florey Institute and the University of Texas Research Imaging Institute. The 2007 study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), concluded that actual changes in the brain may cause an elderly person to underestimate thirst and how much liquid to drink.

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