Dehydration in the Elderly: A Review Focused on Economic Burden

J Nutr Health Aging. 2015 Jun;19(6):619-27. doi: 10.1007/s12603-015-0491-2.


Background: Dehydration is the most common fluid and electrolyte problem among elderly patients. It is reported to be widely prevalent and costly to individuals and to the health care system. The purpose of this review is to summarize the literature on the economic burden of dehydration in the elderly.

Method: A comprehensive search of several databases from database inception to November 2013, only in English language, was conducted. The databases included Pubmed and ISI Web of Science. The search terms «dehydration» / "hyponaremia" / "hypernatremia" AND «cost» AND «elderly» were used to search for comparative studies of the economic burden of dehydration. A total of 15 papers were identified.

Results: Dehydration in the elderly is an independent factor of higher health care expenditures. It is directly associated with an increase in hospital mortality, as well as with an increase in the utilization of ICU, short and long term care facilities, readmission rates and hospital resources, especially among those with moderate to severe hyponatremia.

Conclusions: Dehydration represents a potential target for intervention to reduce healthcare expenditures and improve patients' quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Dehydration / economics*
  • Dehydration / epidemiology*
  • Dehydration / mortality
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • PubMed
  • Quality of Life