Is This the Most Overlooked Health Risk for Seniors?

Serious senior couple
Photo by CREATISTA / Shutterstock.com

Most of us worry about illness as we grow older. Cancer, diabetes and heart disease all become concerns in our senior years.

But one relatively common and potentially fatal condition — dehydration — often flies under the radar.

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than it is taking in. The lack of fluid can prevent the body from functioning normally. When this happens, you may experience symptoms such as lack of urination, fainting and confusion.

Rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing also may occur. In severe dehydration, the body can go into shock. For some people, dehydration is fatal.

Dehydration can occur at any age. But seniors are particularly susceptible.

Most people’s sense of thirst diminishes with aging, so older adults may not drink enough fluids. The danger increases for seniors who have medical conditions — such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis or kidney problems — that cause them to urinate more often or sweat more profusely.

Older adults also have less fluid in their bodies than younger people.

Fortunately, the solution to dehydration is a simple one: Drink more fluids. This is especially important when you exercise or spend time outdoors in hot weather.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends taking the following steps to prevent dehydration:

  • Drink more water every day. Fluid needs differ from person to person, so ask your physician how much water you should drink daily.
  • Drink extra fluids after exercising or spending time outside on a hot day. The NIH says sports drinks can help restore minerals you may lose through sweating. Drinking additional fluids also makes sense when you are sick.
  • Skip drinks with sugar and caffeine. Sugary drinks are especially bad for people with diabetes, and caffeinated drinks have a slight diuretic effect, meaning they lead to more frequent urination.

Many foods — including celery, cucumbers, watermelon and strawberries — also have a hydrating effect when you eat them.

It’s important to stay hydrated on a regular basis and not to wait until you are thirsty. By the time a senior is becoming thirsty, he or she already is becoming dehydrated, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Dehydration is a common source of hospitalization among seniors. The Mayo Clinic suggests seeing a doctor if you or a loved one experience the following:

  • Diarrhea for 24 hours or more
  • Irritability or disorientation
  • Sleepiness and a lower level of activity than normal
  • An inability to keep down fluids
  • Bloody or black stool

Allowing yourself to become dehydrated is just one medical faux pas people tend to make later in life. For more, check out “7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50.”

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
5 Surveys For Money Sites To Get Paid For Your Opinion
5 Surveys For Money Sites To Get Paid For Your Opinion

Yes, you can earn extra cash by taking online surveys. But some websites are better than others for this. Here are a few of our favorites.

This Chase Card Is Great for Groceries and Cash Back on Everything
This Chase Card Is Great for Groceries and Cash Back on Everything

You could earn more than $600 cash back in your first year just from grocery shopping.

These 12 Reusable Products Save You Money Over and Over
These 12 Reusable Products Save You Money Over and Over

Buy reusable versions of these household items, and you won’t have to spend another dime on them for years.

If My Spouse Dies, Can I Get Her Social Security?
If My Spouse Dies, Can I Get Her Social Security?

If a spouse dies, will the survivor collect the other’s share in addition to his or her own?

Never Buy These 12 Things at a Thrift Store
Never Buy These 12 Things at a Thrift Store

Sometimes a great deal is not worth it — or, even worse, is dangerous.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

5 Awesome Places You Can Retire Overseas on $2,000 a Month or Less
5 Awesome Places You Can Retire Overseas on $2,000 a Month or Less

In this week’s podcast: tips on retiring overseas — from someone who’s been helping American expats for decades.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them
15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security

Growing numbers of seniors are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits, but you might be able to avoid this fate.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.