Hydration for the Elderly

Woman Drinking Glass of Water

The summer months are upon us!  And staying cool and well hydrated become top of mind especially for those in the Southwest.  In recent years fitness gurus have been touting how important hydration is for our health.  Water bottles are now common place.  You’ve probably even seen water bottles for sale in stores or on the internet that have times of the day listed on the side so that you’re sure to drink a certain amount of water throughout the day.  This helps to maintain proper fluid levels in your body for optimum health.  Few people, however, realize that it is even more important for elderly people to remain well hydrated.

Why is it more important for the aging population? There are many factors that contribute to dehydration in the elderly, and we’ll just cover a few of the major ones.  First, water levels in the human body decrease as we age.  There is naturally less water in us as we grow older, and we need to be replenished with water more often.  Secondly, certain medications may cause dehydration.  While medications can help with a number of ailments, many of them also have dehydration as a side effect.  Check with your doctor if this is something that you should be aware of so that you can be proactive in combatting a potential problem of dehydration.  Finally, as we age, our kidneys are often not able to function as well as they did when we were younger.  This is just a natural part of growing older, but it does contribute to dehydration.  Staying well hydrated will help our kidneys function.

What can we do to stay hydrated sufficiently?

  1. Find ways to increase water intake. Set goals for yourself to drink a bit more water several times a day.  The average person needs between seven to thirteen cups of water a day.  That is a lot of water to drink for many people.  Large quantities on an empty stomach can cause nausea, but try taking it in smaller doses several times a day and you might find it easier on your body.   If you do not like tap water, try filtered water.  If you need to, add some fruit into it for flavoring.  Lemon or lime sliced and steeped in water with a few mint leaves can make a refreshingly nice infusion.  If you prefer hot drinks, try hot lemon water.
  2. Herbal teas. If you prefer even more flavor, you can increase your water intake without the side effects of caffeine by making herbal teas.  There are so many options to choose from you will for sure be able to find something that you enjoy.  Replacing soda (pop) or other sugary drinks with an herbal tea or fruit infused water will help you stay hydrated and lower your sugar consumption.
  3. Eat more fruit and vegetables. Both fresh fruit and fresh veggies have good amounts of water in them that will help contribute to your hydration.  They also have the added benefit of adding fiber to your diet.  Pay attention, of course, if you are a diabetic as some fruits (due to high sugar content) may cause issues with your blood sugars.
  4. Stay out of intense heat. Because it is so easy for an older individual to become dehydrated without noticing, it’s best to stay out of very hot environments whenever possible.  If you do need to be outside in the heat, make sure that you wear hats that block the sun, stay in the shade and bring along a water bottle to drink.  Force yourself to drink water even if you do not feel thirsty.
  5. Eat soups and stews.  Soups can be eaten hot or cold, depending on preference.  Broths can be sipped throughout the hour in the same way that you would sip tea, and if can increase mineral intake if prepared properly.  Soups and stews are a tasty way to increase our hydration levels – just be careful of adding too much salt!
Herbal Tea

You may be surprised as you maintain healthy hydration levels at how many ailments are alleviated!  There can be corrections in blood pressure, headaches may go away, dizziness may cease, infections may be flushed out of your system and energy levels may improve.  It is certainly not a “cure-all” remedy, but sometimes the small and overlooked simple things in life can have long reaching implications.  So, start now!  Go and drink a glass of water (or eight) for your health!

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