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Preventing Dehydration

Dehydration is the lack of adequate fluid in the body. Fluid helps carry oxygen and energy in the body, as well as helps the body rid itself of waste products. Many of our Hospice patients are at risk for dehydration due to poor fluid intake, losing too much fluid through normal bodily processes, decreased access to fluids related to the inability to self-feed, and/or a decline in cognitive status. Medications such as diuretics or laxatives can increase fluid loss. In addition, older patients often times have a decreased thirst sensation.

It is important to identify the signs and symptoms of dehydration early:

  • Unintentional or unexpected weight loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased skin turgor
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased urination
  • Constipation or fecal impaction
  • Nausea
  • Anorexia
  • Sunken eyeballs
  • Decreased functional ability

Unfortunately, many of our Hospice patients experience the above symptoms related to their disease process. Caregivers can help prevent dehydration by:

  • Providing favorite fluids during and between meals
  • Serving cold beverages cold and hot beverages hot
  • Encouraging fluid intake at all meals and snacks
  • Keeping fluids nearby
  • Offering beverages frequently
  • Keeping a fluid journal.

If you have questions/concerns or have a patient that could benefit from a dietitian visit, please contact:
Kellie Glass RD, LD (606) 615-2585 or Amy McFann RD, LD (304) 690-5063