5 Reasons Why Those with Dementia are Prone to Dehydration

As a person grows older, the risk of dehydration increases. This risk increases dramatically when that same person suffers from dementia. When one becomes dehydrated, it means that they are losing or have lost more water than they have consumed.Reasons Why Dementia Patients Get Dehydrated

Mild levels of dehydration start to occur when 2% of the body weight of water has been lost. Severe dehydration happens with at least 4% of the body weight of water has been lost.

In this guide, you will learn the top 5 reasons why dementia patients are more prone to experiencing dehydration.

Reason #1: Loss of the Natural Thirst Instinct

Everyone has a natural thirst instinct for water. This is directly regulated by a feedback loop that occurs between the organs in the body and the brain. As one grows older or suffers from certain types of disorders – such as dementia – this feedback loop weakens and results in the onset of a condition called “adipsia”.

This may also be referred to as “hypodipsia”. The sufferer experienced decreased thirst. Being that it often happens due to abnormalities in certain parts of the brain, it is commonly experienced among dementia patients.

Reason #2: Production of an Antidiuretic Hormone

If a dementia patient loses their sense of thirst, the body will become very low on water. At this point, the hypothalamus of the brain increases the production of an antidiuretic hormone in the body, which is called “vasopressin”.

The hormone is immediately secreted from the pituitary gland within the body and then makes its way to the kidneys. Once present in the kidneys, the process of reabsorbing the water from the urine occurs.

When this happens, water is retained or reserved in the body and urine flow is drastically reduced. This antidiuretic hormone may make the dementia patient feel as if they do not need to drink.

Reason #3: Gastrointestinal Dysfunction

Research has indicated that those that suffer from dementia are more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal complications. These studies researched gastric emptying times and colonic-based transit times.

These indicate that those with dementia have stomachs that take longer to empty. Furthermore, it is believed that there are communication problems that occur within the brain and the gastrointestinal tract.

As a result, dementia patients are more likely to suffer from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other problems with the gastrointestinal tract that could result in the loss of water from the body and the development of dehydration.

Reason #4: Swallowing Complications

Many with dementia eventually come to the point where they suffer from swallowing problems. In fact, this is considered to be one of the most common dementia symptoms. This stems from communication issues between the mouth, throat, and brain.

As a result, they will eat and drink less. If issues with swallowing results in the need to thicken fluids and foods, the patients may acquire a dislike of the thickness of the substances.

Both the swallowing issues and the need for thickening fluids could result in less of a desire to consume water; therefore, causing dehydration to occur.

Reason #5: Forgetfulness and Cognitive Issues

Individuals with dementia may simply forget to consume fluids and foods that contain fluids. They may also suffer from cognitive problems that cause them to forget how to turn on faucets, how to pour themselves a cup of water, or how to open lids. As a result, they may simply be unable to get a drink on their own.

What Can Be Done?

If your loved one has dementia, it is imperative that you ensure that they stay properly hydrated. Failure to do so could result in many complications. These include dry skin that is prone to infections, irregular post, increased confusion, urinary tract infections, illness, and even death.

If you are unable to ensure proper hydration, it is advised that you consider placing your loved one in a memory care facility. If you would like more information on placement or other services that are available for dementia patients, contact us directly today by calling: 973-384-1177

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