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Major Summer Health Risk for Seniors is Preventable

School is out, barbeques abound and the heat is on.  With all of the fun activities to participate in—from pool parties to picnics—summer is a wonderful season for everyone.  But while we may remember to take extra precautions during strenuous activities during these warmer months, seniors in particular have to take extra care each day.  Parsons House Preston Hollow, an assisted living and memory care community, is expert in all matters concerning senior citizens and would like to inform the community about ways to keep elder loved ones happy and hydrated this summer.

Dehydration is ranked in the top ten most frequent reasons for Medicare hospitalizations; it is a serious problem and can result in death if it is not taken care of properly – both due to direct physical effects of dehydration as well as increasing the risk of falls.

Dehydration occurs when we lack sufficient fluid in our bodies.  The ability to feel thirst lessens with age so we often do not realize when our bodies require more liquids. As we age, we may find we have to use the bathroom more frequently and thus, we are losing fluid more rapidly. Through the aging process, our bodies start losing muscle and gaining fat. Muscle holds water; however, fat does not and as a person ages, his or her body water decreases. Medications that increase urination or help constipation can also cause dehydration.

Thankfully, dehydration is easy to prevent.  Pass along these easy tips for staying hydrated to the seniors in your life:

  • Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink; by this time you are already dehydrated.
  • Carry a reusable BPA-free water bottle with you and drink from it regularly.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Drink at least eight cups of water every day and try to incorporate foods with a high water content like grapes, cucumbers, and apples into your diet.
  • Keep a full water bottle in the refrigerator door and take a drink every time you open the refrigerator.
  • Schedule outside activities before noon or in the evening.
  • Always wear a wide-brimmed hat when in the sun.
  • Drink extra fluids in extreme heat to replace the water lost from sweating.
  • Do not replace water with alcohol or caffeinated drinks.
  • Start and end the day with a cup of water.
  • Know the symptoms of dehydration.

To judge whether or not your senior loved one is dehydrated, look for these symptoms; If you spot any of these symptoms, have your loved one drink water immediately:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Dry mouth
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Dry skin or lips

Hydration can be life-threatening. If you spot any of symptoms below, go to the Emergency Room or contact a physician right away:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Feeling of blacking out when sitting up or standing
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Sunken eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

Remember, dehydration is easy to prevent. Help your senior loved one help themselves this summer and stay hydrated for all the fun this season has to offer!

Parsons House Preston Hollow publishes a free quarterly newsletter focusing on advice and tips for adult children of seniors. To subscribe, send an email to [email protected].

Sources:  Parsons House Preston Hollow, Utah State University

Parsons House Preston Hollow is an assisted living and memory care community that offers a secure and fulfilling lifestyle with all the comforts of home, while offering the experience and skill of a knowledgeable and dedicated staff.  Their assisted living program offers a special combination of housing and personalized support services designed to respond to individuals who need help with activities of daily living, but do not need skilled medical care as provided by a nursing home. Parsons House Preston Hollow promotes maximum independence and dignity for each resident, encouraging the involvement of family, friends and physicians. For more information, please call (214) 357-7900, or visitwww.parsonshouseprestonhollow.com.

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