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Dehydration Not Just a Summer Thing!

Angie SzumlinskiNews

Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration. There are many reasons for this, including: 

  • A decline in totally body fluid, 
  • Lowered thirst response, 
  • Decreased kidney function, 
  • Health conditions and medications. 

Recognizing the symptoms of dehydration is important so you can assist your residents in replacing lost fluids. Some of the signs and symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, fatigue, new onset confusion, dark-colored urine, and lightheadedness. It is important that we don’t ask our residents “are you thirsty” and use that as our guide because thirst is not a reliable indicator of the body’s need for water in seniors. Sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons such as the resident isn’t drinking enough because they don’t want to be incontinent, however, dehydration can lead to serious complications including urinary and kidney problems, seizures, and hypovolemic shock. 

We all need to be aware of the keys to prevention all year, not just in summer months. To prevent dehydration, we should be offering plenty of fluids, whether it is water, juices, popsicles, jello, etc. or fruits and vegetables that are high in water, i.e., watermelon, cucumbers, etc. In fairness, we do a great job when the temperature rises outside, it triggers us to be mindful of our resident’s hydration status. But did you know that in the cold weather, residents may need to drink additional water to combat the moisture loss from dry air? Thus, the title, not just a summer thing! 

It may be the “dead of winter” but let’s think outside of the box! Get those hydration carts rolling, stock them full of fun drinks and snacks that provide additional fluids. Use cool mist humidifiers in the rooms of residents at highest risk for dehydration and encourage residents to be up and about during the day. And of course, be sure you are providing frequent toileting opportunities to assist in preventing incontinence. Stay well and stay informed! 

For more information:

HealthCap RMS: Dehydration ( 

hcrmi_685d986f9746acdf49d50578f0f445c1.pdf ( HealthCap Hydration Toolkit 

Nutrition and Hydration Audit Checklist.pdf HealthCap  

Policy & Procedure – Hydration Management- Sept. 2007 ( 

hcrmi_e8b3d198a3aa266e49fe213f312a08fb.pdf ( Abbott Nutrition Health Institute 

Stay Hydrated! How To Prevent Dehydration (

8 Smart Tips for Preventing Dehydration (