As older adults age, their nutritional requirements change.
Why is it important?
34% of older Canadians are at nutritional risk, and women more so (1)
Older adults are at risk for under-nutrition due to dietary, economic, psychosocial, and physiological factors (2)
Increased sedentary lifestyle and lowered metabolic rate (5)
Increased deficiency in key vitamins and minerals; a reduced sense of taste and smell; difficulty chewing or swallowing; a restricted diet for a health condition; eating alone; loss of appetite; and medications (5)
Chronic conditions or disability may affect ability to cook (2)
Risk factors: 85+, female, dementia, multiple chronic diseases, medications, fever, dehydration history, use of diuretics (water pills) (4)
Parkinson’s disease or stroke may cause swallowing difficulties leading to decreased fluid consumption (1)
Signs of dehydration: little or no urination, sunken eyes, skin lacking elasticity and resilience when pinched, low blood pressure, a heart rate faster than normal, reduced blood flow to the extremities, dry mouth, dizziness/sudden confusion, weakness (3) (1)
To confirm diagnosis, consider blood tests (electrolytes, kidney function) and urinalysis (3)
Treatment usually involves replacing lost fluids and electrolytes as oral rehydration
In life threatening emergency situations provide intravenous (3)
Identify medications that may be causing water loss (1)
Eat Right Ontario recommends: women 9 cups (250ml per cup) a day and men 12 cups (2)
Certain liquids, such as fruit juices, coffee, or carbonated drinks can make diarrhea worse (3)