On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, Robolution went on a field trip to Kaiser Permanente because our team is researching how to help older people. Kaiser Permanente is a doctor’s office for people over the age of 20. We talked with and learned a lot from Dr. Lozar about seniors and their health. These are some of the challenges that the elderly face: dehydration and its consequences, mobility (going up the stairs, walking, transportation), technology use, vision, hearing, back pain, balance (standing up, falls, showering, reaching for things), exercise, memory, leaving stove on, medications (not remembering to take them, taking too much, taking them at the wrong time, arthritis, difficult to read), and having a connection with the younger generation.
We thought the problem of dehydration in the elderly was the most interesting. Most people, including the elderly, don’t realize how important this problem is. For seniors, their sense of thirst decreases or is lost, as they get older. Because of this, seniors don’t feel the need to drink so they are not adequately hydrated. Other age-related body changes, like losing muscle mass (has lots of water) and dysphagia (swallowing disorder), also contributes to the elderly being prone to dehydration. In hot weather – especially, in heat waves, the risk of dehydration is even higher for seniors.
When seniors become dehydrated, it could lead to syncope (fainting episodes), ER visits, hospitalizations and possible organ failure.