Since we were children, many of us have had the importance of staying hydrated hammered into our heads. “Drink 8 glass of water per day!” I used to hear at school and at gym class, even in our school health textbooks. Of course staying hydrated is critical for everyone at every age, but it is especially critical for older persons and those heading into elderhood.
Although we may think of dehydration as a minor nuisance given our experience with hot days or exercise, that dry mouth feeling can actually have more severe side effects than most of us realize. Fatigue, muscle pain, bladder infections, and even kidney failure are all serious risks associated with being dehydrated. Drinking enough water is a crucial part of maintaining our health, and it is even more important for elders.
One of the common issues that can arise for elder persons, especially those suffering from incontinence issues, is dehydration. Avoiding water in order to limit “accidents” can help with a continence problem in the short term, but it can have devastating effect on long-term health for older people. Dehydration can lead to bladder infections, which are especially dangerous the more we age.
Bladder infections are particularly dangerous for elders. For younger persons, the symptoms of a bladder infection are primarily acute, and are an easily identified and rectified problem. However, for elder people, especially those who are under-hydrated, bladder infection can actually mimic the symptoms of dementia. Oftentimes elder people are not even aware that the cause of their issues is a bladder infection, and they may have no idea that not drinking enough water over a long period of time can cause these infections.
At Senior Steps, our geriatric care managers have had significant experience with bladder infections and their symptom mimicry of dementia. Sometimes medical professional, unware of the total picture of one our clients health and lifestyle, may mistakenly diagnose dementia in a patient with something as simple as a UTI. These mistaken diagnoses can lead to worsening health problems, as a dementia diagnosis can carry significant care implications. And the entire time the problem could have been solved if treated like a UTI!
Geriatric Care managers work with each one of their clients to determine their actual health issue, including their home life, their eating habits, their lifestyle, and their relationships. One of the most important foundations of Senior Steps is proving the best possible quality of life for our clients, and we are always on the lookout for issues that can turn into something worse. That even includes making sure our clients drink enough water.