Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dehydration

My dad was not feeling great yesterday morning.

Since Friday mornings are when Mrs ERJ and I take mom and dad their meals we were in the driver's seat.

Two of my sisters and one of my sisters-in-law are nurses.  A quick texting conference settled on dehydration as a possible contributor to my dad's symptoms and it was the easiest, firstest thing to address.

Out came the 12 ounce water bottles.  We went with the smaller water bottles because they are easier for my dad to handle and because it gave the nurses more precision in measuring water intake.

Two went on the horizontal surface at the head of his bed.  Six more and a twelve pack of 7UP went into the fridge.

"Dad, I talked with the nurses and they think you might be dehydrated.  The plan is to have you drink from these bottles and for you to leave the empties on the table as you finish them so they can monitor how much you are drinking."  I said.

To my surprise he meekly said, "OK.  I can do that."

It is my impression that we become more susceptible to dehydration as we age and become more sedentary.  Our hunger and thirst signals become weaker.  We don't get hot and are not subjected to the same cues we received when we were more active.  Going to the bathroom becomes more of a chore and we eat and drink less to reduce the number of trips.

One way to combat that is to put out some water bottles and to have a schedule.  "OK, Dad, you need to drink one by nine, another by noon and the last one by four."

The caretaker puts out three bottles and at last check of the day there should be three empties.  The number and size of the bottles will vary, of course depending on the patient and their needs.

Dad perked up later in the day.  I don't know if it was the water or if it was due to the natural rhythm of how he was feeling.

1 comment:

  1. You are correct. Dehydration is a huge issue in the elderly, especially the frail elderly. It quickly deteriorates into what is called acute kidney injury, in other words, the dehydration leads to organ failure beginning with the kidneys.

    It can be set off by a urinary tract infection, or by folks just not drinking because like you said, the getting up to go to the bathroom becomes a hassle, although the exercise is a good thing, or by folks with congestive heart failure being put on a fluid restriction by the doctor and thinking if they drink even less, that would be a good thing. It isn't.
    I'm always telling my patients to drink every ounce the doctors will let them have.

    Holidays are always a trigger, or so it seems. The change in daily routine can be huge. And in winter, folks just don't think about the drying effects of central heat, or the low humidity.

    And dehydration affects younger folks as well. Headaches, tiredness, and slow thought process can be signs of dehydration.

    Glad to hear your Dad was perkier by the end of the day. Water is inexpensive medicine for sure.

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