Do you know water makes up about 50-70% of our body weight and dehydration is a serious concern in the seniors that brings numerous health challenges?
Well, the sun is out and it brings along health challenges to seniors. The first and foremost challenge that it brings forth is dehydration. While it can happen to people of any age, the condition gets dangerous especially for young and older adults. A dehydrated body can lead to consequences like impaired cognitive function, constipation, increased risk of falls, and hospitalization.
Aging and Dehydration
Before we discuss the tips to cure dehydration in seniors during summers, we all need to know the science behind what leads to dehydration. There are some reasons why older adults are more prone to electrolyte imbalances. With age, kidney functions and muscle mass tend to decline. This also diminishes the ability to conserve water.
Another reason is that the prompting for the body to consume water also reduces as the person starts aging. Some medical conditions also affect an individual’s ability to retain fluids. For example, especially people suffering from dementia may forget to eat and drink. In such a case, they can experience dehydration. Intake of certain drugs leads to frequent urination, which ultimately depletes water from the body. These constitute the medical conditions but adding to all these issues, comes the sun that brings with itself the problem of dehydration.
Causes of Dehydration
As a non-medical caregiver, you must know the cause of the dehydration. The change of season no doubt becomes one, but, looking for other signs is a must. Picking up signs quite early will help in nipping the issue in the bud. Also, as a caregiver, you must keep in mind that thirst is not usually a useful sign, because the person who feels thirsty might already be dehydrated. The signs like headache, lethargy, sleepiness, dry mouth, and muscle cramps show the body is dehydrated. Here are some of the causes that lead to a higher risk of dehydration:
- Natural lower water volume in elders.
- Less urge to take water intake.
- Impaired mobility in older adults.
- Impaired physical and cognitive abilities.
Other than these, the causes vary from person to person. So, it is suggested to take a piece of advice before diving right into any random treatment. However, some signs of severe dehydration are, rapid breathing, weakening of pulse, low blood pressure, little or no urination, cold feet and hands, skin dryness, dark urination, and confusion.
Safety Tips for Seniors and Caregivers
Here are some of the tips that caregivers can take to avoid any untoward incident while caring for elder adults.
Stay away from the Sun
The prime hours when the sun shines bright should not be used for outdoor activities. Allow your client to take up activities later in the day or the evenings when the intensity of the sun rays decline. Also, seniors should always wear hats, sunglasses when going out. It will prevent their eyes from burning and reduce the damage to their skin.
Check the Medications Twice
After a certain age, senior adults tend to become dependent on many medications, which as discussed above reduce the water level in the body. So, as a caregiver to elder adults, checking time and again their medications are necessary to prevent dehydration. Regular review is important. To reduce the burden, you can prepare a schedule and manage, alter it accordingly. But, keeping an eye on the client is of utmost importance to keep a track of falling health. A little mistake on the end of a care service provider can cost you your job for the life-time. So, staying updated is the key and to make it less burdensome, you must make sure to set a routine and make it a habit.
Dress as per the Weather
You would never want to send your aging loved ones without a warm blanket on in the winters, so, the same goes for summers too. Right clothing and accessories as per the weather also call for similar attention. Look out for three L’s: light-coloured, light-weight, and loose. These would help your loved one’s age in comfortable wardrobe selections.
Drink plenty of water
This ought to be done as the first step. It also sounds cliché but this is one of the most important steps. As a caregiver, you will have to be proactive about keeping your elder client hydrated. You can look for the symptoms like disorientation, confusion, etc, and keep a water bottle handy all the time because if they experience severe dehydration, it might lead to a life-threatening shock. The feeling and urge to drink more water automatically will decline with age, so one should stay diligent to avoid any such situation.
Diet plays the Role
Drinking enough water may be difficult, so one should also add into their diet fruits that have the highest water content in them. For example, one can have an intake of fruits, like, mangoes, watermelon, melon, grapes, etc. and can also consume more hydrating food like cucumber and tomatoes. But, these must also be taken after the proper consultation and advice of the doctor. The general recommendation for adults is around 64 ounces of fluid in a day, but that amount also increases with the increase in heat and humidity, so the requirement might also change based on the health conditions.
Rule of Thumb
A good rule of thumb is to try and balance the intake of fluid in the body and the output. If a senior is urinating and sweating continuously, it means their body requires more intake of water content to maintain the balance. Here’s a twist, keep in mind that seniors can get dehydrated in winters too.
Stay in a Cool Environment
When the weather turns humid and hot, keep your elder loved ones in a cool environment. Ask them to stay inside until the sun goes down. Check if the room gets heated up easily. If it does, then try shifting your senior client to a cooler place in the house. Also, apart from changing the place, try to keep them happy and cool. If the mind is cool and filled with fewer worries, there is a better chance of staying fit and healthy.
All the above tips help fight back the issues that might arise while caring for a senior. But, what if the caregiver has to stay away due to any personal emergency? In that case, a caregiver can become a virtual guide to the senior adults. They can connect them anytime with the help of caregiver mobile app. The software would allow the seniors too to connect whenever necessary and seek guidance in real-time.
Caregivers and the Training
Apart from the technology, the home care agencies must provide training to caregivers to take care of seniors during the summers. They should be trained to provide the requisite care as and when required as per the situation. The situations like sudden dehydration can arise out of blue. So, the home care agency also has to provide proper training to the caregivers so that they can avoid any such situation.
Caring via Technology
Technology has proved to be a benefit for caregivers as well as home care agencies. These have brought all the parties on equal footing and can connect without any hindrance. It is the technology that has made it possible to extend care in real-time without having to be present. So, what if I tell you that you as a caregiver can provide care even by being away from your client?
It is through the use of comprehensive home care software. An AI (artificial intelligence)-induced software assists in handling clients even by being away. The caregivers can advise their senior adults on what they can do possibly to avoid any unexpected situation. A great home care software solution will allow you as a caregiver to place a call, drop a text or email to immediately connect. Nowadays, home care agencies have resorted to the use of home care software. Why? Because of the immense benefits and the freedom, it provides to the caregivers. Virtual caregiving became popular at the outset of the pandemic and made the life of caregivers easier and business for home care agencies profitable.
The intuitive home care software tools would certainly help caregivers in extending the best care to their elder clients. Monitoring through the use of the software will minimize the risk of hospitalization as well as dehydration.
More than this, it has helped in improving senior care as it offers benefits like less commuting, easy availability, and flexibility. It can be difficult for seniors to commute daily and get care services, so with the use of technology, they can stay in their homes and be guided by the caregivers through virtual meetings and seminars.
Also, those residing in remote areas could receive advice and suggestions from the experts without having to move an inch. In case of emergency, seniors with the help of technology can reach out to their caregiver and seek advice whenever they feel necessary. Even a caregiver does not have to be physically available all the time. Just a click can do wonders. Seniors can use home care software and have access to the care schedule of the caregiver to see it beforehand and have it altered as per their needs. Not just this, they can even have the time changed and inform their caregiver.
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