Rehydration solutions for the elderly

Written by jamie farber
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Rehydration solutions for the elderly
Senior citizens run a high risk of dehydration during the summer months. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

More than 60 per cent of the human body is made up of water. During normal activity, the body loses more than 2,365ml. of water a day. That number goes up even more during hot weather or when someone is exercising or exerting. Staying hydrated keeps the body functioning properly. Elderly adults, however, are one of the most at risk groups for dehydration. When senior citizens become dehydrated, there are several methods that can rehydrate them.

Drinking Water

According to, signs of mild dehydration can include excessive thirst, lack of urine, dry skin, headache, sleepiness and dizziness. If a senior citizen is experiencing any of these symptoms, try to get her to drink a glass of water or a sports drink. Have her slowly sip the drink instead of gulping it down, because too much water too quickly can cause stomach problems. Do not offer soda, coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Water is the best option when trying to rehydrate an elderly adult.

IV Fluids

If the dehydration appears moderate or severe, call your doctor or seek immediate treatment at an Emergency Room. Signs of moderate or severe dehydration include sunken eyes, lack of urine output, inability to keep fluid down and rapid breathing. In the Emergency Room, the elderly patient will receive fluids and nutrients directly in the vein, through an IV. This type of rehydration provides the body with water and essential nutrients much quicker than drinking water.


Hypodermoclysis is another option for rehydrating elderly adults. The process is similar to IV rehydration, except hypodermoclysis can occur in a person's home after a caregiver has been trained by a doctor or nurse. In hypodermoclysis, a needle is placed under the skin, but not in the vein, of the patient, usually on the chest or abdomen. The needle is connected to a tube, similar to an IV, with a liquid solution. The needle than delivers the liquid straight to the patient's tissue. Hypodermoclysis is a good option for an elderly adult who suffers from chronic dehydration.

Preventing Dehydration

The most important way to prevent dehydration in elderly adults is to make sure they are drinking enough liquid. Water can also be found in many fruits and vegetables, so including those in a daily diet will help with staying hydrated. If you are caring for a senior citizen with mobility problems, keep water readily available. If the taste of water is bothersome, try using powdered drink mixes that flavour the water, but do not add any excess sugar. Senior citizens, and all adults, should drink at least 1814gr. of water or non-caffeinated beverages daily.

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