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Hydration for Elderly Susan's Problem
As we all know health has to be maintained at all levels to keep the body functioning. In Susan's case the key factors are nutrition, exercise - both mind and body - and the most vital is proper hydration. At 98 she is not independent enough to take control of these needs. So, having the right caregiving program is critical to her good health. However, the support system to ensure Susan benefits from any care program has to be managed by a competent caregiver - whether it is a family member or a professional. Usually, it is the combination of both.
In Susan's case she has an excellent experienced compassionate professional caregiver. Daisy is sincere about her relationship with Susan and dedicated to the job she does to give Susan the right care. It really makes a huge difference when you find someone who you can trust. And, fortunately Daisy is able to help the family do what they need to do when they are taking care of Susan. Susan is extremely lucky to have someone who really cares.
Susan has the good fortune of also receiving some assistance from the US Department of Veterans Affairs as they also provide her health care benefits. Susan's service in the US Navy has been rewarded through the various care programs offered by the VA. The help she receives from the staff at the medical facility and the adult care program is true a blessing. You can read more in the VA section. The goal at the VA is to keep her fit enough to stay at home, also.
Hydration - In September 2012 Susan almost died from dehydration - there is a lesson to be learned
Elderly people need to keep a healthy amount of fresh fluids flowing in and out of their bodies. Water flushes out wastes, regulates body temperature, carries nutrients to vital organs, and supports chemical balances. Staying well hydrated boosts energy. It also helps keep the skin moist, which is necessary for dry, aging skin. Signs of dehydration include dizziness, weakness, muscle cramps and general feelings of weakness.
The older generation is suffering from kidney problems, urinary tract infections, constipation and other health conditions linked to a chronic state of dehydration. And the elderly are especially affected by dehydration because many of the medications they take deplete the body’s water supply without their realizing it.
Hydration concerns the balance of your body’s water and fluids. Dehydration is your body suffering from a water and fluid imbalance. As you age dehydration happens easier because natural changes in your body change the way your kidneys manage fluids. Urinary tract infection risk increases. Some health complications impede thirst sensations that would normally alert you to consume fluids. You can imagine how highly critical it is for elderly people to maintain proper hydration. You should be aware of the symptoms of dehydration - more importantly if you are providing care for your parents or any elderly person. You should understand and follow the standard adequate intakes established by the Institute of Medicine in 2004. If you suspect you or someone else is having a series effect of dehydration consult your doctor or a health care professional to make sure there is no need for emergency treatment.
Water Intake for Seniors
Water is one of the most important fluids required by your body. It protects your kidneys, helps digestion and plays a role in regulating body temperature. People over age 60 tend to dehydrate easier because of inadequate water consumption and increased loss of stored water from kidney capacity changes. However, water intake may vary if you have specific health conditions like heart or kidney disease.
Figuring out the best source of water comes from evaluating people’s individual drinking habits. A good way to research your hydration needs is to search on-line and use a “water intake calculator” available on web sites. They use your weight, activity level and location to estimate how much fluid you need to drink per day.
Water is not the only fluid important to hydration and health. Electrolytes -- electrically charged ions that communicate functions between your nerves, muscles and organs -- are also important to hydration. The primary electrolytes include sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium. These minerals work together to maintain fluid volume inside and outside of your cells as well as protect you from cardiovascular disease, heart rhythm abnormality and high blood pressure. A balanced diet including fresh fruits and vegetables or juices, sports drinks and tea can supply you with electrolytes.
Sports drinks such as Gatorade are a quick and efficient way to replenish lost electrolytes, and are the most popular method for athletes. However, these drinks usually contain a large amount of sugar as well, so drink in moderation, or add a bit of water to dilute the drink.
Pedialyte is another choice for replacing lost electrolytes. Sold in grocery and drugstores, it is similar to sports drinks but does not contain large amounts of sugar. Because of this, Pedialyte is ideal for infants and children who are dehydrated due to sickness.
CVS has a drink that provides a good source of elctrolytes.
The BBC News article "Eat bananas and live longer" notes that "bananas, raisins, potatoes and dates" are all excellent sources of electrolytes. Avocados, brown rice, lima beans, apples and yams will all provide your body the minerals for a good electrolyte balance.
Food and Hydration
Water is not the only way to stay hydrated. Food can help supply you with adequate hydration. Some foods also include water: soups, yogurt, fruits such as watermelon, apples, oranges and tomatoes, and vegetables like lettuce, carrots and cucumbers. According to a 2007 hydration review in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition," produce such as broccoli, lettuce, strawberries and watermelon have 91 to 100 percent water content. Apples, gelatin, grapes, citrus and milk have 80 to 90 percent water content and peas, frozen yogurt, eggs and fish have 70 to 79 percent water content. Eating a diet including these varied foods and drinking liquid beverages will help you stay hydrated and healthy.
Many things around you influence hydration. Climate changes can affect fluid retention. Adjust beverage intake based on outside temperature, activity level and medical conditions that may cause your heart to work harder to pump blood. According to the Texas Heart Institute, dehydration is a high risk in the elderly during seasons of extreme heat, especially for people with a heart condition. Medications may also impact your fluid balance. Consult your physician for hydration recommendations to prevent illness like heat stroke due to dehydration.
Alcoholic beverages don’t help your daily fluid intake. Alcohol inhibits the body’s anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) causing a loss of fluids. Black tea, green tea, caffeinated sodas and coffee have a dehydrating result. Health experts recommend starting your day with water. Your body becomes dehydrated while you sleep during the night. Hydration greatly benefits from drinking water first thing in the morning.
Some kidney or other medical conditions require that fluid intake be monitored. Also, if it appears your parents are steering clear of water, take the time to find out why. For example, you might find your dad is lowering his intake because getting to the bathroom is a hassle. Your mom may be cutting down her fluids because she fears incontinence. These indicate other health problems that will only be exacerbated by limiting their fluid intake. So, find out what’s going on first and then create a hydration strategy that suits your parents’ needs and lifestyles.
This is a picture of Susan in September 2012 before she went on a nine day period of not eating or drinking enough. She had no fat to burn. Susan really liked coffee and this was not any benefit to her hydration issues. For elderly people it dosen't take much to reach a fluid imbalance as explained in the column on the left next to her picture. Weight loss from not eating and dehydration are serious matters and if not handled properly it means a trip to the ER or can even result in death. Susan confessed she was trying to be "independent" by refusing to cooperate with the caregivers on duty while her son was gone on a business trip. She did not think of the consequences of her actions not eating or drinking enough. Wasting away down to 63 pounds resulted in serious consequences and a long stay in a rehab facility. Unfortunately, the caregivers at that time were not very good at their job. They did not have enough expereince or training to handle this situation properly.
As you can see Susan did not eat or drink enough and ended up in the ER. She had a urinay tract infection from dehydration. She lost all her strength from not eating because her body started to utilze the protien in muscle tissue as a food source. Susan had no fat to burn so her body immediately went after her muscles making her extremely week. Susan ended up in the hospital for five days. Her health issues were serious and she ended up with a kidney infection. These complications caused her to hallucinate for 72 hours. She is lucky she survived her trip to the ER. Susan was in such seriously weak condition she had to go to a rehab facility for 70 days and rebuild her body. She required physical therapy and an eating program. One interesting thing was she had no neurological damage. The doctor at the hospital was impressed how quickly she got her cognition back and how well she did on the test. During an oral exam she was asked to spell three words backwards. She got them all correct immediately. The doctor was surprised how fast she spelled world backwards. The crossword puzzles must have helped keep her sharp. Bad nutrition and dehydration can really take a toll.
Take a look at Susan. She arrived at the rehab center weighing merely 63 pounds. She went from skinny to almost like a skeleton in a few days. A few glasses of water and some food could have kept her from looking like this. She almost died from making the wrong choices and having some really bad in-home health care.
You probably see by this picture of Susan she has put on some weight and recovered pretty well. She has a good caregiver. She has a good hydration program. She eats better. She excersises. She attends a care program at the VA three days a week. As a result of her improved healthcare routine, Susan is leading a more comfortable life and very lucky to be back at home.
It's a lot of work and commitment from Daisy and Susan's family to keep her on the right path. However, Susan still inspires people with her great personality, charm and wisdom. When people meet her and hear about her story they are amazed how well she is doing. She uses a walker at home and uses a transport chair for long outings like a trip to Northridge Mall. When people speak with her she responds well and usually has some classic remark that catches people's attention. She is lucky to have regained such good health. She really is "alive and well at 100".
June 6 2015 Cancer Walk Daisy, Christine and SAC
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