Long-Term Care

Reasons for inadequate fluid intake in the elderly

LTC Nursing Assistant Trainer, April 5, 2012

Unfortunately, normal aging changes increase the risk for fluid imbalance and dehydration. Elderly residents are less capable of maintaining fluid balance compared with younger people. Also, many elderly persons (especially women) deliberately limit fluids to reduce the risk of accidental urination. Some residents may refuse all fluids after the evening meal to avoid having to get up at night to urinate.

Other common reasons for inadequate fluid intake and abnormal loss of fluids include:

  • Decreased content of body water
  • Age-related changes in thirst sensation; decreased thirst response
  • Physical or mental inability to consume fluids independently
  • Depression, alteration in mood, or cognitive status
  • Renal changes
  • Dysphagia
  • Poor dietary intake (food is up to 80% fluid)
  • Lack of available fluid
  • Warm environmental temperature
  • Delirium
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Apathy
  • Bedrest, causing physiological changes and fluid loss
  • Immobility

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The Long-Term Care Nursing Desk Reference, Second Edition, by Barbara Acello, MS, RN.

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