Senior Scene August 14, 2017

The temperature has finally risen to an acceptable summer level, but as the hot, humid weather persists, the need to pay attention to seniors and their well-being increases. It is absolutely imperative to remain properly hydrated during this type of weather, and this is often a struggle for the elderly and their caregivers.
Two-thirds of the human body is made up of water. Approximately 70 percent of this water is inside the body’s cells, 20 percent is in the space surrounding the cells, and slightly less than 10 percent is in the bloodstream. The water in the human body is essential to maintaining its health and therefore the intake of water needs to match the amount being excreted.
Dehydration is common among seniors due in part to a diminished sensation of thirst, self-imposed fluid deprivation, and dementia. In fact, dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of emergency room visits and hospitalization after age 65. Some of the conditions that can result in excessive fluid loss in seniors are gastroenteritis, diuretics combined with a low-salt diet, and extreme heat.
The most common signs and symptoms of dehydration include persistent fatigue, lethargy, muscle weakness or cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea, forgetfulness, confusion deep rapid breathing, or an increased heart rate. Seniors may also experience excessive loss of fluid through vomiting, urinating, frequent watery stools, and sweating. Complaints of being unable to retain fluids in the system may be expressed and dry or sticky mucous membranes in the mouth may occur. Eyes may appear sunken and skin may lack its normal elasticity (sags back into position slowly when pinched up into a fold). If these symptoms exist and persist for 2 or 3 days, seek medical care immediately. If left untreated, dehydration can quickly cause severe health problems and even death.
So, how does one avoid dehydration during periods of excessive heat and humidity? Well, almost everyone gets about half their daily water requirement from solid foods and fruit or vegetable juices. Seniors often have a reduced sense of thirst and a reduced appetite during the hot weather and may require additional encouragement to consume an appropriate amount of fluid rich food.
Here are some fruits and vegetables with the highest water content (by weight) that can be easily included with meals or served as handy snacks: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, strawberries, tomatoes, and of course, watermelon. Ensure your loved one has adequate food supplies and encourage them to leave some fruit readily available at all times (cut into bite size pieces).
Other preventive measures include: encouraging 6 to 8 cups of liquid every day (or as recommended by the doctor), serving beverages at room temperature, and avoiding caffeine which actually contributes to dehydration through frequent urination. Electrolyte drinks can also be helpful when battling excessive fluid loss in extreme heat.
I would like to take this opportunity to advise all the members of Community Care for South Hastings that our Annual General Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday September 20th at 2:00 p.m. in the Parrott Room at the CrossRoads to Care complex in the Bay View Mall. If you are planning to attend, please call 613-969-0130 to register.
Secondly, the partner agencies at the CrossRoads to Care are collaborating and planning a really exciting Open House for Friday October 13th from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There will be 8 educational sessions throughout the day, information booths, tours, and much more. Mark your calendars and plan to join us!