Seniors: Why Hydration is Crucial as You Age
Did you know that your sense of thirst can decrease as you age? For this and many other reasons, staying hydrated as a senior is particularly important.
According to the USGS Water Science School, water makes up 60 percent of the adult human body. All of our vital organs – lungs, brain, skin, muscles, kidneys and heart – are comprised of, you guessed it, water.
Water contributes to many of the human body’s most important functions. This includes the regulation of internal body temperature, transfer of essential nutrients through the bloodstream, removal of waste and lubrication of joints.
Unfortunately, seniors are often at a higher risk of dehydration. As we age, the body loses water content and research has shown that individuals between 75 and 80 years old have almost 50 percent less body water content than the younger population – yikes! Factors that commonly contribute to dehydration in older individuals include:
- Reduced sense of thirst
- Chronic illness
- Lack of appetite
- Certain medications
- Physical disability
- Deliberate fluid restriction to avoid using the restroom if suffering from limited mobility
- Embarrassment due to frequency of restroom use from weak bladder
- Reluctance to ask for assistance for those who cannot access beverages
It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of dehydration and to know how to prevent it so you can be the healthiest version of yourself possible.
Recognize the symptoms. These are some common signs that you may be dehydrated:
- Dark urine
- Decreased skin elasticity
- Dry mouth
- Increased heart rate or a sudden change in blood pressure upon standing
Prevention is key. Incorporate these easy tips to ensure you’re fully hydrated:
- Try to drink between each meal.
- Track fluid intake and output daily.
- Make a “fluids schedule” to encourage hydration at specific points throughout the day.
- Make sure water is within reach throughout the day.
- Try drinking fluids a few ounces at a time so it’s not overwhelming.
- Try a variety of hydrating fluids to prevent boredom. Mix in coffee or tea to your fluid intake throughout the day.
- Try infusing water with fruit, herbs or cucumber to make it taste better – this also provides variety.
- Accommodate for any disability with drinking equipment, such as straws or cups with handles.
- Include fruits and vegetables in every meal, they naturally provide water to the body.
- Don’t make the process of hydrating feel forced, make it easy and a natural part of your daily routine.
Photo credit: via Flickr With Wind