The Dangers Of Dehydration In Elders

Written By: Charlotte Senger
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: October 27, 2022
Last updated: December 7, 2023

28% of older adults in the United States are likely to suffer from adult dehydration. Dehydration for seniors can be extremely dangerous and lead to other health complications.

Why is dehydration so dangerous in elders, and what can you do to stay more hydrated?

Keep reading for a guide to dehydration in elders - the dangers, the treatments, and tips for preventing dehydration for better health and improved quality of life.

Why Is Dehydration So Dangerous For The Elderly?

To help you understand why it’s crucial to stay hydrated as an older adult, let’s discuss the consequences of dehydration for older people. Here’s why dehydration is dangerous in elders:

  • Increased risk of falls - when you’re dehydrated, your blood pressure drops, which leads to dizzy spells. In older adults, dizzy spells can lead to falls, which can be extremely dangerous, as the bones become extremely brittle in later life.
  • Increased risk of UTIs - unlike in youth, UTIs in later life can lead to confusion and a lack of mental clarity. When you’re dehydrated, you have an increased risk of UTIs and kidney troubles.
  • Skin conditions - since older adults often spend long hours in sedentary positions, if you become dehydrated, this could lead to developing bed sores or skin sores. There are also plenty of skin remedies and creams that seniors can use to fix skin conditions.
  • Constipation - when we don’t drink enough water, our stool can become dry and more difficult to expel. Constipation can lead to severe stomach pains.
  • Mental clarity - your memory and cognitive functions are impaired when you’re dehydrated.
  • Increased hospitalization and mortality - if you don’t drink enough water, your chances of hospitalization increase due to increased risk of falling and other conditions.

Many older adults avoid drinking too much water to prevent the need to go to the bathroom several times during the night or to avoid incontinence. However, how much water you drink has a minimal effect on these outcomes. So, don’t avoid drinking water. Your body needs it.

Signs You’re Dehydrated

If you’re unsure whether you’re drinking enough water throughout the day, check out some of these top signs you’re dehydrated:

  • Your skin is dry and less elastic - if you pull small folds of your skin, do they return to their normal state immediately? Or does it take a while? If your skin is less elastic, this is a sign that you’re dehydrated.
  • A dry mouth - if your lips, tongue, or mouth feel dry, this could indicate that you’re dehydrated.
  • Dizziness and confusion - feeling dizzy, disoriented, or confused is a significant sign that you’re dehydrated or suffering from a UTI caused by dehydration.

Although these signs can indicate dehydration, they can also be symptoms of other conditions. So, if you’re sure you’re drinking enough water and still suffering from any of these symptoms, seek help from your medical practitioner.

What Is The Best Treatment For Dehydration?

Since dehydration can lead to many complications, especially in elderly citizens, you might need to visit a hospital for treatment if you're severely dehydrated. One of the fastest ways to resolve dehydration is to insert an IV, immediately rehydrate the blood and provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals.

Your doctor might also prescribe you antibiotics to help fight off a urinary tract infection and some laxatives to help ward off constipation.

Dehydration is more severe than you’d think. The body needs water to perform several functions, like keeping your urinary tract clean and preventing bacteria buildup. The best way to avoid dehydration is to take preventative measures.

How To Prevent Dehydration

The best treatment for dehydration is prevention. If you’re looking to prevent dehydration and improve your kidney health, cognitive function, and digestive health, take the following steps to avoid dehydration:

  • Avoid the sun - the sun doesn’t just tan the skin, it evaporates moisture from the skin, and the sun’s heat causes you to sweat and lose fluid. While it’s essential to get some Vitamin D, you should limit your sun exposure and drink plenty of fluids when spending time in the sun.
  • Eat raw fruits and veggies - raw fruits and vegetables like satsumas and cucumbers make the perfect snack and are full of water, vitamins, and nutrients. Since most of our water intake comes from our food, it’s a good idea to incorporate hydrating foods into your diet.
  • Avoid saunas and steam rooms - if you’re not the best at your daily fluid intake, saunas and steam rooms will do you more harm than good and contribute to dehydration.
  • Pay attention to your stool - if you’re suffering from diarrhea, you’re losing a lot of water in your stool. So, make up for it by drinking plenty of water.
  • Drink plenty of water - perhaps the most apparent solution, drinking enough water throughout the day can be pretty challenging. You might forget to drink, or you may simply not like water. Here are some solutions if you’re not the best at getting your daily H2O:
    • Keep a water bottle handy - to remind yourself to drink more, keep a bottle of water close by at all times.
  • Take small sips - just sipping water regularly can make a big difference.
  • Try flavored water - if you find water dull or unappealing, why not give flavored water a try? Fruit-infused water is a fantastic solution!
  • Try sparkling water - if you’re a fan of fizzy drinks, try switching to sparkling water to stay hydrated.


Staying hydrated is especially important during the later stages of life, as your body becomes more vulnerable. If you suspect you’re suffering from severe hydration, call your doctor immediately to enquire about treatment. In the future, use the prevention tips listed in this article to ensure you maintain healthy hydration levels. Incorporating mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can further support overall well-being by reducing stress and enhancing mental health.

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Charlotte Senger is a senior discount expert who handles all financial concerns and ensures that seniors are able to save money. She got her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Texas.
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