As summer arrives, we’re all looking for ways to stay cool and beat the heat. One of the easiest is to make sure you’re hydrated. The age-old advice to drink at least eight glasses of water a day applies to everyone, but for seniors, it’s especially important. Water is essential to nearly all body functions, from keeping joints lubricated to making sure blood stays pumping to our hearts. It also is paramount in controlling body temperature, distributing nutrients and medication throughout the body, and keeping the urinary tract healthy.
Dehydration can be extremely dangerous to seniors, and according to a study from the University of California Los Angeles School of Nursing, around 40% of elderly people might be chronically underhydrated. Dehydration is more likely to affect older adults for a number of reasons. To start, older adults experience body composition changes over time that can leave them with less water. In addition, appetite and thirst tend to decrease as you age, which means older adults often naturally drink less than they once did. Finally, many seniors take medications that flush water from the body, which further increases the risk for dehydration.
For seniors and the loved ones who care for them, it’s important to recognize the main symptoms of dehydration. One of the first signs of dehydration is dark-colored urine or urinating less frequently. From there, seniors may feel fatigue or weakness, irritability, dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches, dry mouth, and confusion.
With so much at stake, making a plan for hydration that your senior loved one can follow is a great way to ensure that they’re getting the water their body and mind need to stay healthy. Here are some tips to help them get started on their road to better hydration:
1. Keep It on Hand
Buy your loved one a fun water bottle or portable cup that they can keep with them. That way, when they feel thirsty, they don’t have to go looking for water. They’ll also be more inclined to drink throughout the day since it’s already right there!
2. Make It a Habit
To ensure that you or your senior loved one get the appropriate amount of water each day, it can be helpful to build in specific times of the day to work toward that goal. Make it a habit to drink a glass first thing in the morning or down a glass before your walk each day. The key is to make it a routine so it becomes second nature over time.
3. Cut Back on Alcohol
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it naturally removes fluids from the bloodstream. By decreasing the amount of alcohol you consume, you can keep more water in your body.
4. Keep It Interesting
If you find your interest in drinking water feigning because you’re just not excited about it, try adding a bit of flavor. Fresh citrus, from lemons and limes to oranges and grapefruit, could be a fun addition, as could pieces of cucumber, berries, or apples. You can also try natural low-calorie flavorings like Crystal Light that will turn your plain water into refreshing pink lemonade or berry punch.
St. Martin’s in the Pines is proud to offer community-focused living with senior residents in mind. From their safety to their mental wellbeing, their engagement to their sense of independence, we strive to make their golden years truly shine. If you’re interested in seeing what senior living is like within the St. Martin’s community, schedule a tour with us today by clicking here. We look forward to meeting you!