Prolonged dehydration can cause other health issues, such as cardiac or renal problems.
Patients who already have cardiac or renal conditions will have more severe reactions to even slight dehydration.
This is closely followed by decrease in urine output and chronic constipation. When the body is not properly flushing itself of toxins, these toxins can cause infections.
Friends and family who regularly visit with their loved one may not realize that the person is dehydrated until they are in an emergent situation.
Usually, the first symptom of dehydration to present is a dark or malodorous urine.
This can be for a variety of reasons, but a common reason is that deteriorating muscles make it more difficult for them to get up and move around, which discourages them from simply going into the kitchen for a glass of water.
Some of them also find it difficult to regularly get up to go to the bathroom, so they purposely reduce the amounts of fluids they consume so they do not have to urinate as frequently.
More symptoms to look for include: dizziness, dry mouth, sudden problems with mobility, low blood pressure or severe change in blood pressure when standing up, rapid resting heart rate, irregularity in body temperature (too cold or feeling hot without producing sweat), inability to produce tears, or “sunken” eyes.
Patients who are bed-ridden experience bedsores more readily when dehydrated than those who are able to get up and move around frequently.
Simply monitoring body weight daily can indicate if a person is entering a dehydrated state.
If the person loses two or more pounds from the previous day and feels thirsty or has a severe headache, they are probably dehydrated.
As the dehydration develops, the muscles will become weak and sometimes the person will develop muscle cramps.
Too often people excuse these symptoms as signs of aging, but more often than not it can be corrected by re-hydrating the person. If your elderly charge is otherwise sound in mind and body, but suddenly displays confusion and/or weakness, they may be experiencing dehydration.
Checking the skin for proper elasticity also can help identify early stages of dehydration.