Keep Drinking! Water, That Is!

news-freedom-elder-care-new-jersey-drinking-water-healthy-agingThe heat has been brutal, as the humidity count has been high and being outside is unbearable.  During the summer, it is even more important to keep yourself hydrated.

I make sure to fill up my Brita water bottle several times during the day.  I can certainly tell when I haven’t had enough to drink and I feel like a new person after a few sips.  It is extremely vital for seniors to keep themselves hydrated, not just during the summer, but all the time.

Senior citizens are much more prone to dehydration, due to loss of muscle mass, bone mass and bodily senses. Water intake is initiated by thirst, thirst is a sensation and sensation decreases with age, therefore, an elderly individual may not drink water because they don’t feel thirsty, when in fact, they need water.

Furthermore, 60 percent of a young adults body weight is water, and as you get older, that number decreases by at least 50 percent in older adults.  Besides decreased body water, reduced kidney functions are also a cause of dehydration. Some seniors may also be avoiding fluids because of fear of incontinence.  If they experienced an accident once before, they are most likely embarrassed and want to steer clear of water to avoid further humiliation.

Keeping hydrated is important to your quality of life and essential to your health, as dehydration is often linked to infection and causes hospitalization.  If the body does not get enough fluids, infections such as a Urinary Tract Infection can develop.  Without fluids, toxins are not being released, causing illness.  Seniors and their caregivers should constantly be aware of the risk factors and signs of dehydration in the elderly.  These symptoms indicate that you may be dehydrated:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Dark urine (urine should be pale yellow/clear)
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased pulse
  • Heavy breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasms (Charlie Horses)
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Poor blood circulation

Everyone should consume 48-64 fluid ounces of water each day, which is about six 8-ounce glasses. However, if you have an illness involving fever, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, you should increase your water intake.  You do not have to drink large amounts of water at one time, as long as you drink often, it should avoid dehydration. If you don’t like water, opt for milk, soup, fruit and/or vegetable juice, jello or decaffeinated drinks.

Here are some tips to prevent dehydration:

  • Have a glass of water or juice when you get up in the morning
  • Drink before and after any and all physical activity
  • Always carry a bottle of water when you are traveling (walking, in a car, etc.)
  • Take water breaks throughout the day
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruit or vegetables, as they have high water content

Make sure to always keep yourself hydrated, as it can and will improve your quality of life.

~ Nicole Brierty