The Complexities of Hydration Issues in the Elderly

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Abstract

Although age alone is not an independent risk factor for dehydration, converging age-related factors along with personal hydration habits can contribute to risk for dehydration in older adults. This article explores the problem of assessment of dehydration risk in older adults by reviewing major age-related changes including blunted thirst response, decreasing fluid consumption, and unreliability of biochemical indicators of hydration as confounders of assessment of hydration status in older adults. An additional assessment issue of imprecision of dehydration risk screens is also addressed. Given the heterogeneity of health status in older adults, it is suggested that identifying hydration habits can provide important information about an individual’s hydration status and that in combination with biochemical indicators of hydration may be the best method for evaluating dehydration risk in older adults.

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