During these summer months, it is important for everyone to keep hydrated, especially seniors. Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration than younger adults. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than what is taken in. Hot, humid temperatures can cause an increase in sweating, which results in fluid loss within the body.
The body is a complex system, and everyone’s body is different. This means symptoms of dehydration can be different for everyone. Some of the symptoms include:
· Dry mouth or tongue
· Skin becomes less elastic
· Blood pressure decreases
· Concentrated urine
· Increased heartbeat
· Muscle spasms
· Difficulty breathing
· Kidney problems
· Loss of balance
Unfortunately, many older adults do not drink fluids often in fear of needing to go to the bathroom more often. In the process of aging, thirst perception may decrease, which makes older adults not feel thirsty so they don’t drink when they should. This means, family members, friends, or caregivers should encourage and remind their loved ones to drink fluids, even if they aren’t thirsty. It is important to make sure your loved ones drink a decent amount of water, especially in the warmer months as dehydration can cause electrolyte imbalances.
Some medications and health conditions can cause your body to lose more water. Drinking fluids helps the body in many ways including food digestion, eliminating waste, and maintaining blood pressure.
Here are some ways to increase fluids within the body:
· Drinking throughout the day – water, flavored sparkling water, or low sodium broth,
· If having diarrhea or vomiting, replace your electrolytes by drinking sports drinks, such as:
PowerAde or Gatorade.
· Eat foods higher in water content, such as: cucumbers, celery, lettuce, watermelon,
strawberries, cantaloupe, or soup.
· If you don’t like plain water, squeeze a lemon or lime into the water or make flavored ice
cubes to be added to the water.
Sometimes, drinking a full glass at a time can be difficult for an older adult. An easier way to receive the fluids needed is to take small sips throughout the day. If the weather is hotter than usual or you are exercising, plan to drink more fluids to compensate the higher loss of fluids. Especially on hot days, keep water, Gatorade, or the drink of your choice near you throughout the day so staying hydrated is easier.
If you or your loved one has difficulty holding a glass, cups with handles or straws make it easier to lift and drink. Cups with lids allow a person with shaky hands to drink without the fear of spilling. Remember, when leaving the house, bring a bottle of water with you.
At Christ the King Manor, we know how important drinking fluids is for all ages, especially in the older adult community. We regularly encourage drinking fluids to our residents to help keep them hydrated, especially during these warmer months.
If you would like to learn more about what we offer here at Christ the King Manor or how we could help you, please check out: https://www.ctkmanor.org/services
We look forward to providing more insight weekly while focusing on different topics relating to aging. Thanks for reading this blog post. Our team at Christ the King Manor hopes it provides some insight on how you can help prevent dehydration in you or a loved one.
Author: Shelley Sebring
Title: Registered Dietitian at Christ the King Manor