Keeping Seniors Hydrated
As the temperatures these first few days of the season have already soared into hit record-breaking highs, the risk of dehydration is on the rise as well. While everyone is at risk for dehydration, it’s especially crucial that older adults and seniors pay attention to their hydration levels, or that their caregivers and loved ones watch out for the signs of dehydration in seniors.
Because the body’s ability to conserve water is reduced with aging, which makes it more difficult for the body to adapt to changing temperatures, seniors are particularly susceptible to becoming dehydrated. The ability to sense whether one is thirsty also decreases as people age. The problem is that once someone actually feels thirsty, he or she could already be experiencing extremely low fluid levels. Certain prescribed medications can also hinder a senior’s ability to retain fluids and even depletes the body’s water and electrolyte levels. Oftentimes it’s not the matter of the body’s decreased abilities, but the senior’s mental influence. Those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may simply forget to eat or drink, and those that experience incontinence may avoid drinking too much in an attempt to prevent accidents.
The average fluid intake that most adults need is around 64 ounces. Getting those ounces simply by drinking water and healthy foods high in water content is the purest route to fulfilling that intake. However, weather such as extreme heat and humidity, a person’s exercise level (if they sweat a lot during a workout), and the amount of times they urinate throughout the day can require a person to need even more liquid than that 64-ounce average.
Keeping an eye on seniors at risk is important and some signs of dehydration to note include cold hands and feet, very little or no urination, dark colored urine (when a person’s urine is clear, that is a great sign of high water intake!), irritability, dizziness or confusion, and rapid breathing or heart beat.
Some ways to help seniors get their fluids include:
- Serving water infused with herbs or/and fruit
- Freezing 100 percent fruit juice (cranberry, orange, or mango) in ice-cube trays then adding them to a large glass of water
- Mixing water with a splash of fruit juice
- Serving water in a pretty glass or a vessel with a straw to make sipping throughout the day more convenient
- Trying naturally flavored sparkling water varieties
- Having them “eat” their liquids by providing ample servings of fruit and veggies rich in water content such as cucumbers, oranges, cantaloupe, apples, blueberries, watermelon, tomatoes, grapes, bell peppers and more. Tossing a mixture of these into a blender with a bit of water, juice and ice can turn hydration time into a delicious and healthy snack time, too.
Staying hydrated is important for everyone, not just in the summertime, but also all year round. Ensuring that seniors stay hydrated takes a little extra effort, but is important for their health and wellbeing.