Dehydration in Older Adults

No matter your age, dehydration is dangerous, but seniors are more susceptible to it than other age groups are. Before you have a chance to rehydrate, dehydration can harm you and happen faster than you might expect. Learn the symptoms of dehydration and how to avoid getting it.

Understanding Dehydration

When you don’t drink enough water, you become dehydrated. When your body doesn’t have enough water, harm occurs immediately. On hot days or after an intense workout, dehydration is particularly common. While mild or moderate dehydration is treatable, severe dehydration need immediate medical attention.

Among the risks of elderly dehydration are:

Diarrhea and vomiting

Mainly, diarrhea and vomiting often occur unexpectedly and persist. In addition to losing fluids, your body’s electrolytes and minerals are rapidly depleted, exacerbating dehydration symptoms.


High fevers typically cause dehydration to occur fast. You lose fluids more quickly when your fever is more elevated.

Excessive sweating

You risk dehydration if you don’t restore the fluids you lose through sweating. Replace lost fluids as soon as possible after a workout or other physical activity. Instead, sip on some water gradually to prevent severe dehydration.

Increased urination

Undiagnosed or unmanaged diabetes might cause you to urinate more frequently and lose more fluid than you’re able to drink.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Experiencing an insatiable thirst
  • Few or no tears
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Not urinating frequently
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Experiencing lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Confusion


If any of the following symptoms occur, contact your doctor right away:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea that continues for more than 24 hours
  • Being agitated and confused
  • Unexpectedly more sleepy than normal
  • Fail to keep fluids down
  • Bloody or black stool

Why Does Dehydration Affect Seniors?

Feeling thirsty

Thirst is your body’s built-in defensive mechanism against dehydration. Although there are recommendations for how much water you should consume each day, you should generally only drink when you are thirsty.

Your body gives you the sensation that you must drink something to let you know how much water you need. Your body’s thirst signal weakens as you age. You might not even be aware that your body needs water because you don’t feel as thirsty as you once did.

Body function

Your body may become more unbalanced as you age because your kidneys aren’t functioning well. As you get older, your body has less water, so you get dehydrated far more quickly than you did when you were younger.


Dehydration is particularly likely to be brought on by diuretics. Be mindful of drug side effects that could cause dehydration if you use multiple drugs.

Cognitive impairment

You are more at risk of becoming dehydrated if you have dementia or Alzheimer’s because you can forget to drink when you should. Even though your body transmits indications of thirst, a decline in cognitive function could mean that your brain completely misses or fails to comprehend the messages.

Preventing Dehydration

Drink water

The best method to avoid becoming dehydrated is to consume lots of water. Be aware that drinking soda and coffee might exacerbate the consequences of dehydration in older people. Consistently drink water, milk, or juice.

Set reminders

Use a timer or set reminders on your phone if you don’t get thirsty too often. Make sure you consume a specified amount of water each time your reminder sounds. You can simply avoid becoming dehydrated by consuming water continuously throughout the day.

Increased water consumption will be simpler to maintain once you make it a habit. If you’re exercising or the weather is extremely hot, keep in mind that you need to drink more than usual.

Consider your diet

Being hydrated is easily done by consuming many fruits and vegetables with high water content. If you find it challenging to consume more water, try increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. 

Other foods that help you stay hydrated are: 

  • Yogurt
  • Jellies
  • Soup
  • Broth

Enhance your water

Try infusing fruit into your water if you find it boring to drink plain water all day. To improve the flavor of your water, add lemon, lime, or orange. If you want a more robust flavor than what fruit offers, you can also add herbs like mint or basil.

Talk to your doctor

Consult your doctor if you’ve tried these suggestions and are still dehydrated. To determine what is causing your dehydration, a medical expert may inquire about your food, routines, and medications.

Author : 

Picture of Alief Zolkopli

Alief Zolkopli

Marketing Manager, Teman Malaysia

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