Seniors are at a higher risk for dehydration
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, older adults are particularly vulnerable to dehydration because of changes that happen to the body during the aging process. As the body ages, it doesn’t feel the sensation of thirst as acutely and the kidneys don’t regular fluids as well. In addition, cognitive impairment can also lead to poor hydration. This is often seen in stroke survivors who have difficulty swallowing. In addition to physical impairments, seniors are at a higher risk for dehydration because some medications affect the body’s processing of fluids.
Here are a few risk factors for senior dehydration, courtesy of the British Nutritional Foundation:
- Older age
- Residing in long-term care
- Requiring assistance with foods and fluids
- Cognitive impairment, confusion
- Impaired functional status and assistance required for feeding
- Multiple medications (particularly diuretics)
- Decreased thirst
- Acute illness, diarrhea, and/or vomiting
Now that we have a little background on why seniors are more at risk for dehydration, let’s get in to how we can spot dehydration, either in ourselves or in others.
Here are some warning signs that may point to dehydration:
- Dry mouth, lips, and/or tongue
- Sunken eyes
- Dry, inelastic skin
- Confusion or disorientation
- Low blood pressure
- Reduced urine output
- Urine that is dark yellow and strong smelling
If you think that you’ve spotted dehydration in either yourself or someone close to you, sip water regularly and frequently, and reduce any strenuous physical activity for a bit. If symptoms don’t improve, see a doctor.
It is generally recommended that adults drink between 48 and 64 oz. of water daily. If you are not getting this much water per day, gradually increase your fluid intake until you are at the healthy range (between 48 and 64 oz.). Fluids found in drinks other than water as well as water found in fruits and vegetables can count towards this daily recommended water allowance.
With all that background behind us, we can dive into some helpful, simple tips on how to prevent dehydration. Let’s get started!
1. Drink a full glass of water with medications
Instead of just taking a few sips of water with your daily medications, try drinking a whole glass of water. It’s a healthy habit to form, and you’ll feel better after hydrating yourself more frequently.
2. Set a schedule
It’s easy for small things like drinking water to slip our minds as the day goes on. This is why it’s important to set a schedule for yourself when it comes to drinking water. For example, you could set a goal to drink one glass of water in the morning with your medications, one in midmorning before you go out for a walk, one with lunch, and one in the evening during your favorite TV program. It’s easy to fit a sip or two of water into your usual daily activities!
If you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can also set reminders for yourself throughout the day that prompt you to drink water. That way you’ll never miss an opportunity to stay hydrated!
3. Keep water with you
It’s hard to remember to drink water if you don’t keep it near you. Try to always have a glass of water or a water bottle within arm’s reach at all times throughout your day. You might be surprised by how much more water you find yourself drinking!
4. Mix it up by adding in flavors
If drinking plain water gets a bit boring for you, try adding in a few slices of lemon or a handful of your favorite berries. It’s surprising what a little bit of fruit can add to your drink! There are also special diffuser water bottles you can buy that are made specifically for giving your water a little fruity kick.
Keep in mind that you can get your daily recommended amount of water through other drinks as well—not just plain water. Drinks like seltzer water, juice, and milk are good, relatively healthy ways to stay hydrated while mixing up the flavors.
5. Eat more fruits & vegetables
Liquids aren’t the only way to stay hydrated, though. What you eat is also important. If you want to stay hydrated, try eating more of these delicious, water-packed fruits and veggies:
- Cucumber – 96% water
- Blueberries – 95% water
- Tomato – 94% water
- Strawberries – 92% water
- Watermelon – 92% water
- Bell pepper – 92% water
- Grapes – 92% water
- Grapefruit – 90% water
- Cantaloupe – 90% water
- Orange – 98% water
- Blueberries – 85% water
- Apple – 84% water
6. Avoid dehydrating drinks
While most drinks are great for hydration, some actively work against you. Alcohol and coffee are the biggest culprits—they are both diuretics, meaning they flush water from the body, which causes mild dehydration. If you drink a lot of alcohol or coffee, your body could be seriously suffering from lack of water.
With these long summer months bringing the heat, it’s important that you know what you can do to stay hydrated and healthy. What simple hydration tips do you have? Let us know in the comments below—we want to hear from you! Wishing you a hydrated, fun summer, the SkyBlue team.