Water is essential for the day-to-day functions of the human body. It is critical to the well-being of adults as it regulates body temperature, aids digestion, facilitates detoxification, and breaks down nutrients in the digestive tract, among other benefits. Hence, staying hydrated is an essential aspect of good health and should be a priority for all individuals, especially your loved ones.
In situations where the body may lack the right amount of water, it needs to function correctly due to the loss of body fluids through several means like excessive sweating, urination, and so on. This condition is referred to as dehydration.
Dehydration affects people of all ages, but it is statistically more likely to occur in older individuals. This is due to several factors, but the good news is that dehydration can easily be prevented and remedied.
At Seasons Retirement, the health and well-being of residents are of utmost priority, and we encourage our residents always to implement practices to ensure they’re staying adequately hydrated.
This article will provide an overview of dehydration in older adults and how it can be avoided by implementing healthy practices within your loved one’s lifestyle.
In general terms, dehydration is a medical condition that indicates a lack of bodily fluids, especially water, over a long period.
Since older adults are more susceptible to dehydration, the need to pay attention to water intake increases with age. Older adults’ proneness to getting dehydrated can be due to their diminished sense of thirst, decreased appetite, mass muscle reduction, and change in kidney function.
At times, medication use can also affect the amount of fluid in the body. Diuretics, for instance, are drugs that enhance the production of urine, thereby increasing the loss of water from the body. Additionally, the reaction between some medications can result in dehydration.
Several symptoms indicate the possibility of dehydration. Darker-coloured urine, irritability, dizziness, fatigue, and dry mouth are all symptoms that may arise in mild cases of dehydration.
Meanwhile, severe symptoms like increased heart rate, confusion, and diarrhea can also occur in acute cases.
Having established that hydration in older adults is essential, we will highlight six tips to help prevent dehydration in your older loved ones.
This is the easiest way to promote hydration for seniors. Drinking water replenishes lost body fluids and serves several other health benefits. Therefore, you should always encourage your loved ones to drink enough water throughout the day.
It’s a good idea to ask your loved one to carry a refillable water bottle whenever they are on the move. Meanwhile, at home, they should always have drinking water readily available.
Drinking water and beverages are not the only way older folks can stay hydrated. There are certain foods with a high water content that, when consumed, can replenish body fluids almost as well as drinking water.
If your parents or grandparents tend not to drink enough water, consider incorporating water-rich foods into their diet. Cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons, and berries are some excellent food options with high water content.
Furthermore, soup, stew, and broths are excellent cooked-food alternatives to promote hydration for older adults, especially during the summer and other hot periods.
Pure water doesn’t have a taste or smell, and for some individuals, drinking plain water every day can become quite monotonous and boring. Nowadays, plenty of options are available to add flavours and encourage individuals to drink water more often. For example, instead of drinking a glass of plain water, they can use fresh lemon, apple, or berry juice for added flavour. Several flavoured water products are available on the market to encourage proper hydration.
Alternatively, your loved ones might also opt for low-sugar beverages specifically produced for older individuals to supplement their water intake.
However, it’s worth noting that coffee and tea cause slight dehydration in older adults. So, if your older loved ones regularly drink these beverages, it’s good to remind them to drink enough water afterward to rehydrate effectively.
Even though all beverages contain a good amount of water, not all of them are hydrating fluids. Alcohol, for instance, is a diuretic substance that induces the removal of water from the bloodstream, which means it can contribute to dehydration.
Therefore, it’s highly recommended for older adults to manage their alcohol intake to help prevent dehydration carefully. Proper management of alcohol consumption can be an effective strategy to promote hydration in older adults.
Sometimes, not getting the proper amount of hydration can boil down to forgetting to drink water from time to time. For those individuals who tend to forget about drinking enough water, several practices can be incorporated into their daily routine to stay hydrated.
These may include drinking a glass of water at specific times or after activities such as waking up in the morning, meal times, or simple exercises. Some might even benefit from alarms and scheduled reminders that designate water intake times.
In more severe cases, consider contacting a healthcare professional about ensuring hydration in older adults. Medical practitioners can identify specific causes of dehydration and give expert advice on preventing the condition in your parents or grandparents based on their unique circumstances.
The best approach to preventing dehydration is to note the recommended daily intake for older adults – 2.7 litres to 3.7 litres per day.
This recommended fluid amount is not an absolute value. It is influenced by several factors such as weather, medications, and health conditions and will inevitably vary from person to person.
Hence, it is advised that your parents and grandparents visit their physician occasionally to review their daily fluid intake.
At Seasons Retirement, where your loved one’s comfort is assured, our Dining Services teams provide nourishing foods to keep residents healthy and hydrated.
We also recommend discussing the best approach toward proper hydration with your loved ones to ensure that they can always remain healthy.
In addition to taking steps toward preventing dehydration in older adults, regular visits to the doctor for general check-ups can ensure that any symptoms are detected immediately.