Dehydration among Elderly Patients

Dehydration among Elderly Patients

Among elderly people, water makes up about 50% of their weight. Water is vital in metabolism, blood circulation, temperature regulation, and internal environment homeostasis. Taking very little amounts of water, pathologic fluid loss, or both of those explanations can cause dehydration. Old people are more susceptible to dehydration in comparison with youths due to various adjustments in their bodies as they grow older for instance a reduced feeling of thirst, reduced capacity of urine accumulation, and sarcopenia (Białecka-Dębek & Pietruszka, 2018). This essay will analyze dehydration among elderly patients.           

Polypharmacy increases the consumption of fluids among this age group particularly when they take medications such as laxatives and diuretics. Taking low amounts of fluids may result in complications such as dementia, isolation, reduced mobility, and various other sicknesses. Chronic dehydration is a source of lack of enough fluids in cells, which harms how medications are absorbed within the body. A reduction in water levels in the body may reduce plasma volume, and as a result, the stroke volume can be lowered, making the individual’s body to recoup through increasing the heart pace. A reduced plasma capacity affects perspiration and the flow of blood to the skin, consequently hindering thermo regulation (Białecka-Dębek & Pietruszka, 2018).

Preliminary signs of dehydration include migraines, tiredness, and general malaise. Continued dehydration results in the degradation of cognitive and neurologic capabilities, renal failure, or death. Notwithstanding, cognitive impairment among old people, such as dementia, makes them unable to take care of themselves, for instance taking enough water. Cognitive working in old people is related to various issues, primarily sex, age, and level of education. Furthermore, lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol abuse, lack of physical exercise, and the absence of social support are also associated with deterioration of cognitive functions (Białecka-Dębek & Pietruszka, 2018).         

Dehydration results in a bad quality of life; consequently, avoidance, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment are crucial. A recent study conducted on participants older than 60 years found that the elderly is a high-risk population as far as dehydration is concerned. The most affected are those who live in residential care and hospitals. When they are admitted, dehydration is autonomously related to negative outcomes, extended periods of admission, and higher costs. The study also found that good hydration causes favorable outcomes in cognitive tests, and moderate hydration can negatively affect cognitive abilities. A study done by Suhr et al. (2004, as cited in Białecka-Dębek & Pietruszka, 2018) showed that a lower hydration status leads to poor psychomotor performance, reduced concentration spans and weak thoughts. A similar study conducted by Suhr et al. (2010, as cited in Białecka-Dębek & Pietruszka, 2018) exhibited a connection between the total volume of water in a person’s body and memory skills. A different study, which analyzed how age affects energy balance, absorption, performance, and hydration within 10 days of climbing hills found that youths remained hydrated, while elderly people were gradually dehydrated (Białecka-Dębek & Pietruszka, 2018).

            The predominance of dehydration increases with age. Some studies have revealed that up to 60% of seemingly healthy old adults may be dehydrated (El-Sharkawy AM et al., 2019). U.S. statistics show that in 1996 alone, $1.36 Billion was spent on treatment of aged patients, most of whom were diagnosed with dehydration. Within this population, dehydration causes increased admission to hospitals, poor medical outcomes, and growing dependence on long term care facilities. It significantly contributes to chronic diseases and longer periods of hospitalization. Globally, elderly people (65 years or more) are admitted to medical facilities for a longer period than any other age group. Consequently, this population heavily relies on health services (Frangeskou1 et al., 2015). 

            Dehydration contributes to salivary dysfunction, some kinds of cancers, physical disability, heart diseases, mitral valve prolapse, among others. As a person grows old, there is a decline in thin body size and growth in body fat, resulting in a decreased total body water. Additionally, kidneys of this population undergo gradual functional and structural changes. With age, people feel less thirsty and as a result, elderly people don’t drink water as often as youths. Some elderly people suffer from incontinence, and as a result, they avoid taking water regularly to prevent humiliation.  Furthermore, old people have higher chances of getting chronic illnesses which reduce the body’s capacity to regulate and control fluids and electrolytes. For instance, diabetic patients or those with neurological illnesses are more susceptible to dehydration. Other elderly people may not know the amount of fluids they require or may forget to request for it since they are mentally impaired although dehydration may cause distorted mental capabilities, making them forget to take water (Frangeskou1 et al., 2015).

Conclusion

This essay analyzed dehydration among elderly patients.Dehydration is popular within the population of elderly people admitted to hospitals and residential care. Dehydration makes many elderly people depend on ICU, higher rates of readmission, reduces the quality of life, and increases hospital mortality. Mild hydration can result in poor mental capabilities and low psychomotor processing speed. Studies have found that elderly people are gradually dehydrated during strenuous hill walking. A majority of research on hydration and mental performance are brief and it should be established if there are continuing mental decrements as a result of dehydration. Further research needs to be done on the negative effects of dehydration on old people.    

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