The Importance of Staying Hydrated

glass of water

It’s officially summer, and we couldn’t be more excited. Longer days mean more time for activities and lazy afternoons soaking up the sun next to the nearest body of water (wearing SPF 30 or higher of course.) However, high temperatures can be dangerous for sensitive populations, such as seniors. Making sure our older loved ones are well hydrated is a must this time of year.

According to Hydration For Health, adult men should be drinking 2500 ml (about ten cups) per day, and women should be drinking 2000 ml (roughly eight cups) per day. As we age, several physiological changes put us at higher risk for dehydration, like an increase in fluid losses, reduced body water content, and a decrease in fluid consumption.

As uncomfortable as dehydration is for a younger adult, a dehydrated senior can be at an increased risk for additional health issues. Dehydration can cause symptoms like the confusion of dementia, along with instability and agitation.

Significant signs of dehydration in older adults are:

  • Dry skin or cracked lips
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Mobility difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Inability to sweat or produce tears
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure

5 reasons seniors needs H2O:

  1. Decreased Thirst
    Fact: we lose our sense of thirst as we age. So, while you’re parched and reach for the nearest water bottle when the temps hit 90+, our older loved ones might not notice their need for hydration. Making sure your elderly loved one is keeping up with their water or fluid intake will help prevent them from experiencing major medical emergencies.

  2. Do It For Your Kidneys
    Our kidneys are responsible for filtering our blood by removing waste, controlling the body’s fluid balance, and keeping electrolytes at the right levels. Kidney function can diminish as we age, leading to a decrease in the body’s ability to create urine, or remove waste. Staying hydrated helps to keep kidneys functioning to the best of their ability.  

  3. Brain Power
    Dehydration symptoms in seniors can mimic signs of dementia. Why is that? Because hydration is just as critical for brain function as it is for body function. Cognitive function is enhanced when brain cells get the appropriate amount of hydration.

  4. Find the Bathroom
    Urinary incontinence can be unpleasant. It’s uncomfortable, embarrassing, and frustrating. Some seniors may avoid drinking to avoid the experience, which can lead to additional health risks. Reduction in fluid intake can cause urinary tract infections, which can cause pain and more confusion.

  5. Digestion
    Dehydration can also cause constipation. Staying hydrated and consuming the proper amount of fiber helps us stay regular. Lack of water can also lead to gastritis, acid reflux, and in some cases, ulcers, as the stomach doesn’t have enough water to produce digestive aci

Creative ways to stay hydrated:

It can be challenging to monitor how much fluid someone is consuming. One effective way to ensure your loved one is getting the proper amount of water each day is by getting creative with hydration tactics. Provide hydration however you can: water, juice, popsicles, Jell-O, smoothies, even ice chips have proven helpful.

Try enhancing plain water with fresh fruits and herbs. The infusion of new flavor makes an everyday, boring beverage exciting and palatable. Stock their fridge with their favorite juice.

Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea are diuretics, so while they don’t cause dehydration, they don’t count as part of one’s daily water intake. There are also many water-rich fruits and vegetables, like watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, and celery that you can add to your loved one’s fridge as an alternative method of hydration. 

To encourage hydrating throughout the day, find a commuter mug or cup that has personal value. If your dad has a favorite athletic team, or your mom loved to visit Florence when she traveled, you can find something that will be sentimental and important to them to keep close. Additionally, there are many options for personalizing mugs and cups with photos of your family, making it easy for your loved one to show off the kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.

Aegis Living is known for our fun takes on flavored water at our Hydration Stations both in our communities and at local events. Try some of our recipes, stop by one of our booths at our neighborhood farmer’s markets or art fairs, or visit our communities to learn more about the value of hydration!