Well, summer finally hit the St. Louis area. We waited a long time for it. Seems like we went from 60 degrees right to 90!
When it’s hot outside, your risk of dehydration increases. But did you know that by the time you’re thirsty, dehydration has already set in? This is especially true for the senior adult.
So today we’re going to talk about some simple steps that seniors can take to prevent dehydration.
The Importance of Hydration for Seniors
As I said, the thirst response gets very weakened in the older adult. So when the senior adult is complaining of thirst, they are already in the beginning stages of dehydration… and that is not a good state.
So what do we do about that when the older adult doesn’t really want to ask for water? Or they tell you, “I’m on a water pill, I’m not going to drink any water”? Well there are some things we can do to help the senior adult drink water, and stay hydrated.
Symptoms of Dehydration
What are some of the side effects of dehydration? Just a dry mouth? There’s way more to it than that.
Dizziness, high fall risk, confusion, constipation, high pulse rate… there are many things in our body that can be affected when we’re dehydrated. And dehydration can also happen quickly in the winter months, not just when it’s hot out.
So what can we do to help hydration, help us stay healthier, especially for the older adult who doesn’t feel thirsty? Well let’s talk about that.
How to Prevent Dehydration in Seniors
First, how much should the average woman drink? Well, it’s recommended that up to eight cups per day is a good amount to start with.
What about adult men, what should they drink? About eleven cups of water per day.
Now, water should be your first choice. Try to stay away from the sugary beverages, because again they’re just adding more sugar and not the hydration that we need. And yes, you’re still getting hydration from tea and coffee, especially the decaffeinated coffee.
So what does this look like for a typical day?
I tell folks to start out with at least one to two cups of water in the morning. What does that do? That helps get digestion going in the morning. It also helps with motility, which stimulates your intestinal tract to get motivated.
The next time to think about drinking water is before you eat. Sometimes it’s not hunger pains you’re feeling, you’re thirsty.
So again, a couple glasses of water before dinner helps with the ability to digest the food better. And if you can tolerate a cup of water before you go to bed that may help sometimes with leg cramps, and some of that restless leg syndrome.
So what are some ways that we can enjoy drinking water? I have just a couple of tips that help us with drinking water, because again water is the beverage of choice.
Like I said, drink a glass first thing in the morning. Do a mid-day hydration check. Naturally flavor your water – squeezed lemon, cucumber, or mint are good examples of good ways to add some flavor.
Keep water by you, and especially if you’re someone who’s relaxed in the afternoon and watching TV, have a sip of water during each commercial.
Get more fruits and vegetables, that’s another way to get hydration in. Watermelon, cantaloupe, or melons are very high in water.
Hydrate before you exercise too, even if you’re just going for a short walk. And finish your day with a cup of water.
So again, I just wanted to remind everyone about how important it is to stay hydrated, especially in the summer months when our temperatures are higher. And like I said at the beginning, if you’re thirsty, you’re already starting the signs and symptoms of dehydration.
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