To the Editor.
—The recent recommendations on dehydration in older adults1 highlight the need for increased awareness of dehydration as a serious problem in the elderly. However, the American Medical Association recommendations are largely targeted toward the institutionalized population. Research in progress at the National Institute on Aging shows that approximately 1.5% of community-dwelling elderly will be hospitalized with dehydration annually. Applying this rate to data from a national study of hospitalizations for patients with dehydration among Medicare beneficiaries in 1991,2 we estimate that 456 000 of the 731695 cases reported to Medicare occurred among community-dwelling elderly (assuming that 95% of elderly persons live in the community). Thus, we would encourage that emphasis also be placed on the risk of dehydration for community-dwelling elderly.The analysis of data from Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with dehydration in 1991 identified specific acute illnesses as a frequent underlying condition. For example, 28%
Warren JL, Harris T, Phillips C. Dehydration in Older Adults. JAMA. 1996;275(12):912. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530360021031