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Can Dementia Be Caused By Dehydration

Addressing Concerns About Malnutrition And Dehydration

What causes dehydration in the elderly?

In adult day care centers, clients are required to be offered refreshments throughout the day. The refreshment, as well as meals, must adhere to the USDA dietary guidelines. Lunch and snacks must come from USDA food groups and be supplied by an approved vendor. Adequate hydration must be provided and beverages must be provided outdoors and in hot areas where dehydration may be an issue.

Oral protein and energy supplements can be used in older people with undernutrition, or at risk of undernutrition. Their use is associated with significant weight gain, and a reduction in mortality for those who are undernourished . A higher protein intake is associated with higher muscle mass and a reduced loss of lean mass over time .

Studies have shown that older adults frequently do not meet the official recommendations for intake of fruits and vegetables and greater consumption is recommended. Many community-dwelling older adults lack at least one micronutrient and are not getting enough protein in their diets. Fruits and vegetables are important sources of micronutrients, including vitamins E and C. Fiber, vitamins and micronutrients and bioactive compounds are frequently below recommended dietary allowances .

There is consistent evidence that macronutrient oral nutritional supplementation is effective in maintaining or improving weight among people with dementia. Supplements are well tolerated, with high levels of adherence under controlled clinical trial conditions .

How Do You Know That You Are Dehydrated

Dehydration means that there is a deficit in the bodys total water content. It can be due to decreased fluid intake or increased losses . It can be classified into mild, moderate, and severe.

The first and the most obvious sign of dehydration is the feeling of thirst. However, dont forget that feeling thirsty means you are already dehydrated. To monitor the hydration status of your body, you should be attentive about the signs of dehydration.

Danger Of Dehydration And Utis Among Seniors

Dehydration is among the most common fluid and electrolyte imbalances seen among seniors. If left untreated, persistent dehydration can adversely affect the renal and neurologic systems, as well as mental acuity and cognition. In the presence of other common illnesses, such as a urinary tract infection , dehydration can mimic or worsen existing dementia. So, its important to take a few moments to understand the problem.

Causes of Dehydration among Seniors

To understand how best to prevent and treat dehydration in elders, its important to identify potential causes. Water depletion can be caused by fever, diabetes insipidus, essential hypernatremia , hypodipsia , and other factors. Dehydration can be complicated by electrolyte loss that may result from diuretic medications, renal salt wastage, adrenal insufficiency, vomiting or diarrhea, excessive sweating, or even burns.

Its also important to note that elders can perceive thirst differently than their younger counterparts. Simply not feeling thirsty is often cited as a reason that elders report low water intake that can lead to dehydration. And the less body fluids there are, the lower the kidney functiona dangerous cycle if left unchecked. Understanding these factors can help clinicians, home care aides, and family members prevent dehydration before it becomes a serious health problem.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Spotting the symptoms of dehydration early can help prevent more severe consequences if left unnoticed.

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Why Is Depression Often Mistaken For Dementia

When it comes to taking care of their aging loved ones, families are often careful to take notice of changes to the persons personality, mood, and behaviour. Oftentimes, two conditions come to mind when these distinct changes take place: depression or dementia.

There are many symptoms these illnesses share, which is why it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. Generally, the distinction can be made by understanding what is generally behind both conditions:

  • Dementia: A chronic, progressive disease caused by brain disease or injury that presents itself through impaired memory, personality change, and decreased reasoning
  • Depression: A mental health disorder that affects behaviour, thinking, and disposition
  • Delirium: Often caused by being put into a new place, dehydration, or medication

Another important distinction between the two is that depression is considered a mental health issue, while dementia, although it can affect overall mental well-being, is not.

A third condition that is sometimes confused with depression or dementia is delirium. Delirium is a short-term memory loss that results from a person being put into new, unfamiliar surroundings or living conditions, becoming dehydrated, or having a reaction to medication. This condition is often reversible if treated early, whereas most types of depression and dementia can be treated but arent reversible.

What are the symptoms of dementia in seniors?

Here are some of the signs to watch out for:

Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

Dehydration and Dementia

Many persons with dementia often suffer from dehydration.

The worst part is that this a serious condition that persons with the illness or their caregivers do not easily detect.

Dehydration happens when there is insufficient fluid intake or when the body loses too much body fluids.

Most of the individuals with dementia who suffer dehydration cannot recognize thirst thus, they do not end up taking enough liquids.

Some caregivers might overlook the symptoms of dehydration.

This is made worse by the fact that some sick individuals cannot verbalize their needs to have a drink in a timely manner.

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Causes & Effects Of Elderly Dehydration

While dehydration in seniors can happen because of inadequate water intake, the causes of elderly dehydration can also include:

  • Diseases like diabetes
  • Low urine output
  • Low blood pressure

Because these signs are already common in people with Alzheimers, it might be difficult to tell the difference. Experts recommend caregivers monitor their senior loved ones liquid intake and urine output, especially on hot days.

Consequences Of Dehydration In Seniors

You may have already experienced some mild dehydration effects. Most of us have. If so, you probably didn’t feel that you were at your best. Perhaps you experienced some of the possible dehydration symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Kidney problems, including kidney stones
  • Increased risk of urinary tract infections

If left untreated, you can die from dehydration. Some of the severe dangers of dehydration are:

  • Seizures: Dehydration can lead to an electrolyte imbalance. In elderly people, particularly those with cardiac problems, the consequences can be grave. Because electrolytes carry electrical signals to our muscles, changes to our body’s electrolyte balance can lead to seizures. Warning signs of an electrolyte imbalance include:
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Mental confusion
  • Shock: Low blood volume shock happens when we experience a sudden drop in blood volume. Dehydration can lead to low blood volume, which in turn leads to a drop in blood pressure and, sometimes, shock.
  • Kidney failure: Dehydration complications such as low blood volume can reduce blood flow to the kidneys, which can cause lasting damage to the renal system over time.
  • Heat exhaustion or heat stroke: When we get too hot, our bodies cool down by sweating. But if we don’t have enough fluid to produce adequate amounts of sweat, we can quickly become overheated.
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    Dehydration In Elderly People: Risks Warning Signs And Prevention Tips

    Did you know that the consequences of dehydration in elderly adults are often seriousmore so than in younger people? Seniors also have more risk factors for becoming dehydrated. But here’s the good news: Dehydration can be easily prevented. Awareness is the first step in avoiding the health problems that can be caused by a lack of fluids.

    But many people don’t realize just how problematic dehydration can be for older adultsand how common it really is. Take a look at these facts:

    This article explains why older people are at greater risk for becoming dehydrated. It also lists the consequences of dehydration in the elderly. As well, you’ll learn how to spot the warning signs of dehydration and discover what to do if you or a loved one experiences symptoms.

    How Dementia Affects Cognition

    New Sweets Solve Dehydration Issue in Dementia Patients

    Dementia is a syndrome, a collection or grouping of symptoms that can affect, damage, or destroy cells in the brain. Dementia is progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. Dementia can be the main cause of brain disease or it can develop as a result of accidents, tumors and cysts, concussions, cardiovascular disorders, uncontrolled diabetes, neurologic disorders such as Parkinsons disease, alcohol and drug abuse, and a number of other disorders and diseases.

    Dementia affects cognition: thinking, memory, judgment, learning, language comprehension, attitudes, beliefs, safety awareness, morals, and the ability to plan for the future are all affected to some degree. Dementia also affects motor and sensory functions such as balance, spatial awareness, vision, pain processing, and the ability to modulate sensory input.

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    Review Your Loved Ones Medication Side Effects:

    Some medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, can contribute to dehydration. Review the warning labels from the pharmacy or speak with the pharmacist to determine if your loved one takes any medications known to cause dehydration. If they do, you should speak with the prescribing physician for more advice on how to avoid dehydration.

    Is It Really Dementia Or Could It Be Dehydration

    Reading this, many questions come to mind. But these are the key ones that I find important:

    • Are dementia patients properly diagnosed?
    • Are we being properly diagnosed with other ailments?
    • Why do doctors and medical advisors stress the vital importance that medications be taken, but only briefly remind us to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water?
    • How much is plenty? And why do I need to stay hydrated?

    I do not see these things commonly being taught to patients.

    A common phrase after seeing the doctor or nurse is, And remember to stay hydrated. This phrase commonly ends the discussion, after spending one minute max talking about water. However, how much time is spent on the point that you must take your medication?

    Now, I am not saying that one should not take their medications or that they are bad. What I am witnessing is a blind spot in the system for which no one is at fault. That blind spot is proper education about water. If our seniors, adults, and children were properly educated on drinking water then our health would increase and less medication would be administered as a result.

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    Why Is My Elderly Mother Confused

    Contrary to popular opinion, confusion in an elderly adult is not a natural part of healthy aging. Confusion can be caused by many factors, ranging from medication mismanagement to mild strokes to underlying health conditions, which could be as serious as Alzheimers Disease progression or dementia.

    What Is The Link Between Dehydration And Ed

    Causes, Effects, and Symptoms of Dehydration in Elderly

    As already discussed, different systems in the bodywork in harmony to initiate and maintain an erection. A man achieves and maintains erection through the following cascade:

    • When you get sexually aroused, your brain sends signals through the spinal cord.
    • This triggers the release of chemicals like Nitric Oxide, leading to the relaxation of smooth muscles in each corpus cavernosum.
    • This enhances blood flow through the corpora cavernosa, just like inflating a balloon, causing penile swelling, rigidity, and erection.
    • As soon as you ejaculate, the blood flow through the corpora cavernosa decreases, and the penis becomes flaccid.

    Similarly, Adequate hydration is also essential for sexual health. Dehydration causes several complications and side effects, one of which is temporary ED. Proper hydration maintains plasma volume, allowing adequate blood flow through penile arteries and veins.

    Consequently, dehydration means vascular constriction, lack of proper blood flow, delivery of oxygen, and other essential nutrients required for a proper erection.

    Dehydration and low blood-volume also cause the release of angiotensin, which causes vascular constriction. The angiotensin-converting-enzyme converts Angiotensin 1 to Angiotensin 2, which is a very potent vasoconstrictor.

    This renin-angiotensin system also has a role in the function of erectile tissues . High levels of Angiotensin 2 in the Corpus Cavernosum of penile tissue causes vasoconstriction leading to ED.

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    Memory Loss And Aging

    Weve all misplaced keys, blanked on someones name, or forgotten a phone number. When youre young, you dont tend to pay much attention to these lapses, but as you grow older, you may worry about what they mean. Perhaps you start to talk about a movie you saw recently when you realize you cant remember the title. Youre giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name. Or you find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what you went in there for. Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they arent cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia.

    As you grow older, you experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions youve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. Youre not as quick as you used to be. In fact, you may mistake this slowing of your mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if you give yourself time, the information will come to mind. So, while its true that certain brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems are not one of them. Thats why its important to know the difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.

    Causes Of Dehydration In Individuals With Dementia

    Multiple factors can cause a person with dementia to experience dehydration like:

    • Needing assistance with fluids and food consumption
    • Living in care facilities with poor training on dehydration
    • Medications like laxatives and diuretics
    • Acute illnesses such as colds
    • Vomiting and diarrhoea
    • Inability to swallow

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    Keeping Aegis Residents Hydrated

    Since signs and symptoms of dehydration in individuals with Alzheimers are similar to those of dementia, unknowing caregivers too often overlook dehydration as simply the effects of the condition. But the staff at Aegis Living are trained to recognize dehydration. Along with experiencing enhanced dementia symptoms, seniors may have dry mouth, fatigue, muscle weakness, lightheadedness, dizziness and rapid breathing as well as low urine output or yellow urine.

    Knowing how to spot dehydration is great, but avoiding it altogether is the real goal at Aegis Living. The Alzheimers Association recommends keeping those with Alzheimers hydrated by making fluids easily accessible. Thats why there are hydration stations located throughout each assisted living center, making water accessible to seniors at all hours of the day. These beverages are made more attractive for seniors with natural flavors such as slices of lemon and strawberry. Additionally, there are visible notes that remind residents to drink at least 8 ounces of water five times per day.

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    Care for a Beverage? Hydration and Dementia
    Q: I recently found my independent, 84-year-old dad delusional, disoriented and too weak to walk. The diagnosis: dehydration. How could this happen?

    Elderly people often underestimate their fluid needs and can run into dehydration trouble very easily. Its a common problem that should get more attention, and as you saw, it can have serious consequences.

    Q: Can dehydration be mistaken for dementia?

    Dehydration is a common cause of delirium a sudden and serious change in cognition and attention that can look a lot like dementia.

    Q: What other dangers can it post to older people?

    The risk of falls and hip fractures rises with delirium and weakness. Dehydration also can impair kidney function and, in some, cause kidney failure. Severe dehydration can lower blood pressure, reduce blood flow to the brain and heart and, in rare cases, cause a stroke or heart attack.

    Q: Does thirst decline as we age?

    It does, and it also declines with many medical conditions of aging, such as Parkinsons and dementia.

    Q: What else contributes to dehydration in seniors?
    Q: What are the signs of dehydration?

    Sunken eyes, dry mouth, and skin that stays tented when pinched are early signs. Confusion, altered speech, and lightheadedness upon standing may indicate more severe dehydration.

    Q: Whats your advice to help seniors stay hydrated?

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    Dehydration Can Cause Memory Loss

    For example, lets review Dementia again. The first symptom of a dehydrated brain is memory loss, which is the main symptom of Dementia. Especially when a brain has been chronically dehydrated for years. When we are 30, 40, or 50 our brains are still functioninga plant wilts without water slowly, but over time there is no turning back and the plant has lost too many cells to function and will die. But as you feed that plant sufficient water, the leaves turn green and lift back up into life again. Humans are no different.

    Early Detection And Referral

    The majority of people with dementia currently do not receive a formal diagnosis. Only 20% to 50% of dementia cases in high income countries are recognized and documented in primary care, and this treatment gap is even greater in low and middle income countries. Early diagnosis of dementia is crucial since some treatments are more effective in the early stages, and earlier diagnosis and timely intervention provide health, financial, and social benefits .

    Ultimately, the most successful model of treatment for Alzheimers disease will likely include early detection and control of physical factors , followed by application of multifaceted, disease-modifying interventions to prevent the early and continued loss of neurons and to reduce the toxins that result in further cell deterioration .

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