This message is particularly important for the older people in our community, who are at a higher risk of dehydration and for whom the consequences can be more serious and can lead to hospitalisation.
Signs of dehydration in older people include headaches and dizziness, confusion, irritability, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, weakness, difficulty walking, irritability, urinary tract infections and pneumonia. Another major cause of dehydration is vomiting and diarrhoea. When you’re sick, drinking is sometimes the last thing you feel like doing but if you don’t keep your fluids up, you may end up even sicker.
Clinical Executive for Healthy Ageing and Rehabilitation, Dr Syed Zaman, says our body’s ability to retain water is reduced as we age. “As we get older our sense of thirst becomes less acute. When we take multiple prescribed medications, our risk of dehydration is increased. Some long term conditions, like diabetes, also have an effect.”
Dr Zaman says the remedy is simple – drink water regularly throughout the day. Some tips for hydration include always keeping a drink bottle or glass of water next to you and having a glass of water with every meal. Eating foods with higher water content like fresh fruit and vegetables can also help.
MDHB Acting Medical Officer of Health Patrick O’Connor reiterates the need to keep fluids up. “It’s important to stay hydrated in high temperatures like those forecast this week by drinking plenty of water and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption. Our main concern is for babies, young children and the elderly, who are more vulnerable to heat stroke.”
Mr O’Connor says it’s important to check on elderly neighbours and family members when we are experiencing excessive heat.