As the unprecedented Summer Heat Wave of 2021 proved, even those living in the Pacific Northwest are not immune to dangerously-high temperatures and oppressive humidity levels. Notably for those aged 65+, excessive heat and humidity can cause dehydration and other health issues that place their health and wellbeing at risk. As an informal caregiver, helping an aging senior loved one stay hydrated, safe, and healthy all summer long is possible by taking these steps.
Dehydration Symptoms in the Elderly
Dehydration symptoms can be subtle and are often masked by other common signs of aging. Here are some telltale signs that your senior is getting dehydrated:
- Dry mouth or dry tongue with thick saliva
- Cramping in their limbs
- Low urine output
- Dry skin
- Body weakness
- Crying, but no tears
- Rapid, weak heart rate
- Sunken eyes
- Low blood pressure
- Inability to sweat
- Bloated stomach
- Kidney failure
Note: Ignoring or failing to recognize these latter signs could result in your loved one being placed in a life-threatening situation. If pushing fluids does not help, take them to the nearest Emergency Department immediately.
Summer Hydration Tips for Older Adults
Hydration in older adults can easily be managed with these tips:
Increase fluid intake
Encourage your loved one to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day by making them readily available. Buy them a refillable water bottle and keep it next to their bed or favorite TV viewing spot. If they don’t like the taste of plain water, make it more palatable by adding a lemon or lime wedge. Cucumbers, mint, or coconut also work well for thirsty seniors with finicky tastebuds.
If they are tired of water, try serving your loved ones freshly cut fruit or healthy broths to keep them hydrated. Conversely, tell your senior not to consume sugary drinks, alcohol, beverages that contain caffeine, and soda – all of which can speed up dehydration.
Wear breathable clothes
Materials such as cotton and linen allow the body to sweat and breathe naturally. Be sure not to dress your senior in jeans, clothing made from rayon, or polyester-based fabrics.
Take frequent breaks
While doing activities outside in the summer heat, encourage your loved ones to take rest breaks every hour or so to keep their energy level from getting depleted. In a home with inadequate ventilation or AC, even indoor activities can be dangerous for the elderly on hot, humid days.
Get the AC checked
If your loved one’s home still feels warm even when the AC runs constantly, call an HVAC repairman so they can come and check it out. Strategically placing small fans around the home will also help circulate cooler air even on the warmest of days.
Know their medications
Certain prescription and OTC medications can cause an older adult to become dehydrated faster than normal. As a result, stay mindful of the meds that your senior is taking so that you can increase their fluid intake, if necessary.
Promptly act on the signs
If your loved one is showing early signs of dehydration, offer them a bottle of water or energy drink so they can replenish their electrolytes quickly and resume normal activities.
Hire Them a Professional In-Home Caregiver
Keeping aging loved ones hydrated year-round can be challenging when you’re busy or live far away. On the other hand, a “personal assistant” from a reputable home care agency can help keep your senior hydrated, happy, and healthy.
While using a personalized care plan custom-tailored to your loved one’s needs, a professional caregiver can ensure that they are:
- Consuming enough fluids every day
- Eating nutritious, healthy meals
- Properly managing their medications, including any interactions that could cause or worsen dehydration
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
At Family Resource Home Care, we proudly serve many communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Our local caregiver teams share a commitment to enhancing their neighbors’ quality of life while supporting clients and families with personalized in-home care solutions. When you need in-home private duty care, we answer the call with senior services that include respite care, personal care, meal preparation, errands and transportation, light housekeeping, companion care, live-in care, and dementia and Alzheimer’s care.
Our highly trained nurses provide nursing delegation and close supervision of caregivers while in the home for your peace of mind. At Family Resource Home Care, we are here for you! To learn more about our affordable home care and home healthcare services or request a FREE consultation for a senior in our service area, please visit us today at: www.familyresourcehomecare.com.