Over the past several months I have continued to hear of, or be personally impacted by those who get dehydrated very easily. I am speaking primarily of elderly persons – but not exclusively… more on that in a moment.
I have to admit, it has had me in a bit of quandary wondering why this condition is so common in the elderly. My 93-year-old father recently fell and it was the result of dehydration. He was mentally confused and somehow became disoriented and fell. Thankfully, he was not badly hurt and no bones were broken – however, that is often not the case with others.
Last week I was musing with a friend of mine who is a massage therapist and Naturopath on this subject. She immediately had an answer for me… and an answer that made perfect sense.
If you have read many of my articles you know that I am a huge proponent for treating our largest organ, skin, with the utmost respect in regards to what we put on it. What I didn’t realize was that this organ is also largely responsible for keeping us hydrated. When our skin is young and plump, it holds moisture very well. However, as we age, and our skin gets thinner, it is unable to hold adequate moisture to keep us properly hydrated for very long. Take my father as an example. He had come down with a head cold and therefore was in bed more and drinking less. His thin skin could not maintain the level of hydration necessary to keep his mind clear for as long as mine would have been able to… and mine would not be able to for as long as a twenty something’s could. Are you getting the picture?
When we talk about staying hydrated it means different things to people of different ages. The sad/hard part is that older people don’t want to drink as much because it is more difficult for them to maneuver trips to the bathroom – yet, these are the very ones who need to make certain they are getting the water they need.
I am not advocating water-logging the elderly, but I am saying that it is extremely important to drink as much water when you are elderly as you did when you were younger. Every chart of how much water is enough water I looked at, prior to writing this article, did not take age into consideration. One did say that an elderly person should drink as much water as a middle-aged adult. But remember, those charts generally base our water consumption needs on body weight and level of activity. The natural thought would be that if I am less active as I get older I need less water. That simply is not true. You and I, and every adult person whether middle-aged or elderly should be adjusting the amount of water we drink not based only on activity level – but also on our age. I am not a doctor and so I won’t be dogmatic about this, but it only makes sense that as we age and our skin becomes thinner we should at least maintain the same amount of water we have always drank. The easy equation to follow for daily water requirements is “weight divided by two, divided by eight = number of cups of water needed”. For me that equates to just over 8 cups per day. And, on the days I am very active I need a bit more than that or my body tells me about it.
Although patient safety measures in hospitals and emergency rooms have improved dramatically over the past decade or so, many hospitals are looking for additional ways in which to ensure that no form of treatment or medication errors are made during a patient’s stay at the facility. One of the simplest ways in which safety levels in patient care facilities can be significantly improved is by implementing the use of hospital wrist bands.
Quick and Easy Means of Patient Identification
One of the main aspects of promoting patient safety in hospitals involves providing a clear form of identification for each patient upon admittance. Although this may still involve hand written hospital wrist bands in some hospital environments, more and more care centers are choosing to adopt a standardized barcoded wristband system instead. Doctors, nurses and other caregivers can simply take a look at a patient’s wristband and then match up the name on it to the name on the patient’s chart to ensure that they are dispensing the right combination of treatments and medications to the right patients at the correct times.
An Affordable and Practical Solution to Patient Safety
Most hospital wrist bands now cost less than a few dollars each to manufacture and use. However, this is an extremely small price to pay if it is going to help promote the safety of patients while they are in the care of hospitals. Many hospitals now have the facilities to print their patient wristbands on site as well. This not only reduces the cost of these safety devices even further still; it makes the identification bands a lot easier to decipher, as it ensures that no critical errors are made with regards to treatment or medication because of a doctor’s or nurse’s poor or illegible handwriting.
Adopting a Standardized Wristband System
Over the past few years, many hospitals have taken the wristband system a step further by not only barcoding them, but by also using a color-coding system to help identify different classes of patients. For example, a red strip on a patient’s wristband could indicate that he or she has a severe food allergy of sorts; a yellow strip may be an indicator of the fact that the patient is susceptible to falls and a green strip could show that the patient in question has an allergy to medical latex. While systems like these are an excellent idea, not all hospitals are using the same colors to identify the same risks as yet. However, this may become a very real possibility at some point in the future.
As with any patient safety program that has been implemented in hospital, no system is 100% foolproof. However, using a standardized means of wristband identification in hospitals throughout the country would mean that patients who are being transferred between care facilities would be able to receive the same level of care and consideration, regardless of which hospital they go to. This will help improve patient safety levels more than ever.
Nerve disease is a complication of Type 2 diabetes that can affect many parts of the body. Damaged nerves can lead to problems with your skin, feet, stomach, bladder, eyes, and more. Learn how to prevent damage to the small blood vessels supplying nutrients to your nerves and avoid developing complications. And if you do have nerve disease, learn what you can do to treat it.
1. Prevention. Nerve damage and disease is largely governed by the degree of blood sugar control and the length of time you have had diabetes. The high level of sugar in the blood damages the small blood vessels. It also damages the nerve endings that interact closely with these small blood vessels. The tiny fibers in the nerve endings don’t get sufficient oxygen and nutrients from the blood and they then become damaged. Then the nerves have trouble sending messages.
So, the best way to prevent nerve damage is to avoid high blood sugar. Keeping your blood sugar under control and well-managed will help you avoid nerve disease and other complications. It’s important to test and track your blood sugar levels regularly. This helps you observe what factors make your blood sugar levels rise and fall. Following a meal plan that helps you avoid simple sugars and spread out your carbohydrate intake throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar in check. Regular exercise is also important, as is losing weight.
2. Treatment. If you already have damaged nerves, there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and prevent further damage. The most important treatment is good control of your blood sugar. Avoiding high blood sugar will ensure your nerves don’t become more damaged.
If you’re experiencing…
- numbness, or
- tingling from nerve damage,
there are medications that can help. Talk to your doctor and see if there’s a medication right for you. If you have autonomic neuropathy which affects the organs of your body, there are also medications and treatments available. If your sex life is affected, there are medications and devices to help. And if your stomach is affected, a dietitian can help you plan your meals to avoid nausea.
Taking care of your feet is another way to manage nerve disease. It’s a good idea to check your feet every day and look for sores or blisters. These minor injuries can be hard to notice when you have nerve damage and, if not treated can turn into major injuries and infections.
As usual you should follow medical advice concerning treatment and if you do develop foot problems, no time should be wasted in starting treatment.