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Dehydration in Elderly: Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Dehydration occurs when the fluids lost, are not replaced in the body. Losing more fluid than one takes in means the body does not have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. Dehydration can happen to anyone at any age, however, is especially dangerous in older adults. The amount of fluid in older adults naturally decreases as one ages. Older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions and/or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Dehydration may be reversed by drinking more fluids, however severe dehydration requires immediate medical treatment.


  • Extreme thirst

  • Confusion

  • Less frequent urination

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Dark colored urine



To prevent dehydration, one needs to drink plenty of fluids. Older adults may not always feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated. Because of this, it is important for older adults to increase their water intake, especially during hot weather and if one has an illness or health condition, such as influenza, bronchitis, or bladder infections. Additionally, eating foods high in water, such as fruits and vegetables, can help prevent dehydration.

It is important to increase fluid intake if experiencing any of the following conditions:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Strenuous exercise

  • Hot or cold weather

  • Illness



Treatment includes replacing the fluids that have been lost. For mild cases of dehydration, this includes drinking water and other fluids, such as juices or broths.

For severe cases of dehydration, hospitalization is needed for fluids and electrolytes to be given by intravenous therapy also referred to as IV.


1. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Dehydration.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Oct. 2021,

2. Seladi-Schulman, Jill. “The Causes and Symptoms of Dehydration in Older Adults.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 23 Apr. 2020,

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