Why Avoiding Dehydration Is Important for Seniors
Jun 1, 2021 by Danielle Andersen
No matter the age, our bodies depend on water to survive. From our individual cells to our organs, every component of our body requires water to function properly.
As we age into adulthood, our bodies lose more than 80 ounces of water daily simply through normal activity. When we become older adults - and as a natural part of the aging process - our bodies undergo physiological changes that increase our risk of becoming dehydrated.
- Did you know seniors are among the most at-risk groups for dehydration?1
In fact, dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization after age 65.
Drinking plenty of water is critical to senior daily wellness. That’s because our bodies use water to detox and remove waste, maintain an optimal body temperature and blood volume, encourage proper circulation, promote healthy kidney function, lubricate joints to make daily activities easier, and much more.
If you’re a senior looking for better ways to stay hydrated or a caregiver who wants to know how you can help your loved one stay properly hydrated, keep reading to learn about prevention, hydration tips, and more.
Preventing Dehydration in Older Adults
For some seniors, complications of dehydration can be serious. As we age, the body contains less water - which is partly attributed to the kidneys becoming less efficient over time. For example, at birth, you consist of about 75% water, but an elderly body only contains about 50% water.
Dehydration can happen for several reasons, but one of them is that seniors can develop a weakened sense of thirst or lose it altogether - so they don’t always realize when they need to drink something.
Preventing dehydration in older adults starts by understanding the symptoms and causes - like certain medical issues, medication side effects, issues with incontinence, and even fears of falling when using the restroom at night.1
Some signs that indicate you’re dealing with a state of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth and skin (particularly in the armpits)
- Less frequent urination throughout the day
- Cracked lips
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Irritability and confusion
- Muscle cramps and even fainting
How to Prevent Dehydration in Older Adults
The key to avoiding dehydration as you age is to stay on top of your fluid intake. Since this is difficult for some seniors, finding new and creative ways to maintain a healthy state of hydration will help.
Before we dive into hydration tips, it’s important to know that, on average, most seniors need about 40 ounces of water each day (or eight five-ounce glasses).
Since certain chronic diseases, neurologic conditions, and prescription medications can exacerbate dehydration, here is one of our top tips on how to prevent dehydration in seniors: Track your fluid intake in a journal and pay attention to signs and symptoms of dehydration.
Remember that you don’t have to drink large amounts of water all at once. If you stick to drinking small amounts of fluids throughout the day and tracking your consumption (no matter how small), you can easily stay on top of hydration.2
4 Hydration Tips for Seniors
1. Drinking water isn’t the only way to get fluids.
While drinking water is typically the most common fluid to help you stay hydrated, it’s important to keep in mind that beverages aren’t your only source of fluids.
Raw fruits and vegetables can pack a hydrating punch while providing key nutrients.
A small plate of cut vegetables, like cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery and bell peppers served with hummus for dipping can be a fluid-filled treat.
2. Remember to avoid too much caffeine.
It’s a common misconception that drinks like coffee and tea provide proper hydration.
While it’s true that these options contain ample water, the reality is that drinks like coffee and tea have caffeine in them, which are known diuretics.
These types of beverages can lead to increased fluid loss, which results in dehydration, so avoiding too much caffeine is important to maintaining a proper level of daily hydration.
3. Always keep a water bottle close.
To stay hydrated, you must make drinking water multiple times a day a habit.
Make it easy on yourself and always keep a large, filled water bottle close by. This one bottle can serve as a constant reminder to take a sip and it can minimize the number of times you have to get up and refill a drinking glass.
You can also make it a habit to drink before any activity. For example, when you sit down for a meal, drink some water. Before you get in the car to go somewhere, drink some water. The more you make this a top priority, the more it will become an instinctive action.
4. Don’t get overheated during the day.
If you’re not getting the proper respite from rising outdoor temperatures with your air conditioner, your risk of dehydration drastically increases.
When you’re outside in the heat and sweating, it’s essential to replenish fluids and find ways to stay cool both inside and out. Avoide using the stove or oven to cook during particularly hot days, because it can significantly increase the temperature throughout your house.3
We’re Focused on Your Well-Being. Live a Healthy Lifestyle at Knute Nelson.
At Knute Nelson, we know that dehydration often gives early warning signs before it can cause harm. That’s why our caregivers are always watching for telltale dehydration symptoms, so they’re prepared to act quickly and help an individual get the rest and hydration they need.
Helping our residents live and age well is our primary mission. We help all residents live a healthy lifestyle and achieve the wellness level they desire which starts with proper daily hydration.
Contact us today at (320) 763-1189 to learn more about us and the different opportunities available for you at Knute Nelson.
1National Center for Biotechnology Information. Dehydration and Cognition in Geriatrics: A Hydromolecular Hypothesis. Accessed May 22, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4860410/.
2JAMDA. Increasing Fluid Intake and Reducing Dehydration Risk in Older People Living in Long-Term Care: A Systematic Review. Accessed May 22, 2021. https://www.jamda.com/article/S1525-8610(14)00694-X/fulltext.
3Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Heat and Older Adults. Accessed May 22, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/older-adults-heat.html.