9 Signs of Dehydration in Someone With Dementia

People with advancing dementias are vulnerable to dehydration for several reasons. Mainly, they may forget to drink or to express thirst. Dementia can also alter signals of thirst and hunger to the brain, so your loved one may not even recognize the usual physical cues that tell the rest of us to drink some water. Medications and bouts of vomiting or diarrhea can also lead to dehydration.

What to look for:

  • The person feels warm to the touch.

  • There's an increase in confusion (although by late dementia, this can be hard to detect).

  • Lips are cracked and dry.

  • Skin is drier than usual.

  • The person may complain of headache.

  • Urine is dark and strong smelling.

  • Eyes become sunken.

  • The pulse is faster.

  • Blood pressure is lower.

Find out more about dehydration.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

over 4 years, said...

Several of the clues to dehydration were new to me. Thank you.

about 5 years, said...

Bless those who've and who're caring for a beloved family member. I've undertaken caring for my mother, although she isn't memory impaired, she suffered a fractured hip and suffers from severe hypothyroidism which causes her to have hypersomnia. My Mom had a stay in rehab after her hip fracture and rehab nearly cost my mother her life. She became very ill from bowel obstructions and lost nearly 50 pounds. Rehab was a nightmare; not only for my Mom but also for my family and I to see her suffer like that. I care for my Mom in her home and I'm proud of my role as her guardian and caregiver. It can be stressful at times to see a person so intensely dear to your heart no being the active Mom she once was. But despite that, I'm just glad she's with me safely in her own home. God Bless my mother and all who care for their aging parents.