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Moisture balance in the elderly

How do you know if you are drinking enough water. I discovered how important moisture is for you a few weeks ago. Together with a fellow dietitian, I made a big trip on the road bike. It was much warmer than we thought. Our water bottles were empty in no time. Because we both know how important it is to drink enough in warm weather we got a little panicked. It could take some time before we would be back in the civilized world.

It's about the balance

My colleague works at a nursing home in the city. She knows better than anyone how important it is to ensure that the elderly drink enough. Soft drinks, up to 7 cubes of sugar. "How is it that older people should pay more attention to this?" I ask her. "It's all about the balance in the body," she explains. 'Our body temperature, the salinity in the blood, the blood pressure and also the water content. The body can keep all this fairly constant, but has more difficulty with that as we get older. What also plays a role: older people have less feeling of thirst and the kidneys work less well, making them less able to retain water and salt. ' Healthy drinks instead of water.

What exactly are the consequences of a fluid deficiency in the elderly?

'If you drink nothing for too long, all sorts of symptoms can occur. Thirst of course, but also drowsiness, less sweating, less urination, less elasticity of the skin or fainting due to lowering blood pressure. Ultimately, confusion can occur, because it is precisely the brain cells that need moisture. '

How do you know if a resident gets too little fluid and what can you do?

'It is difficult to determine whether elderly people drink too little. Rapid weight loss, decreased tension of the skin, less frequent urination and dry mucous membranes may indicate. In the laboratory it can be determined how serious it is. Sometimes people are admitted to hospital, where a fluid and / or salt deficiency can be supplemented by an infusion. '

But prevention is better than cure! 'Absolutely! The elderly need more than one and a half liters of fluid per day. Drink enough. At meals, but also between meals. Encourage additional drinking at as many moments as possible. So also for example when brushing teeth and taking medication. ' Lose weight by drinking water.

Fortunately, we cycle past a recreation where we treat ourselves to a large glass of fruit juice and something to eat. We fill our water bottles with water. 'The moisture balance in our bodies is good', my colleague says with satisfaction. 'Now I'll make sure that I get the same for the residents this summer too!'

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