Proper Hydration Tips Our Parents Should Know To Stay Hydrated

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In This Article

We all know that water is a vital element of life that maintains the integrity of bodily functions. It plays a crucial role in curing headaches and fatigue, removing toxins and waste products from the body, boosting brain functions, decreasing the risk of cognitive decline, aiding in weight loss, and relieving constipation. That’s why staying hydrated is key to good health.

Unfortunately, up to 40% of seniors don’t drink enough water as recommended, resulting in a slew of health problems in their old age. While drinking more water is a simple solution to prevent dehydration, did you know that there are other hydration tips for seniors you can use to boost their water intake? Learn more about dehydration symptoms and easy, helpful hacks to fend off dehydration in seniors.

 

Dealing With Dehydration: A Senior’s Guide For Beating The Heat And Staying Hydrated During Hot Weather

Understanding Dehydration

Dehydration is a condition that manifests when the body doesn’t have enough water or loses more water than the amount consumed. As water accounts for roughly 70% of the body composition, dehydration can disrupt the body’s normal functions on different levels, giving rise to a slew of dysfunctions and life-threatening illnesses, such as stroke.

What causes dehydration? Not drinking enough water is an obvious cause of dehydration. In other cases, fluids in the body can be discharged due to certain diseases that cause a person to sweat excessively or have diarrhea or vomiting.

 

Dehydration and Aging: How Does Dehydration Affect Seniors?

Anybody is at risk of dehydration when they don’t drink enough water, especially during hot summer days. However, health experts warn that children and older adults are more prone to dehydration than other age groups.

When it comes to dehydration, most people assume the body only loses water. Therefore, drinking a glass of water can fix it in no time. While it is partially true, dehydration is still concerning as it disrupts the balance of electrolytes needed for optimal bodily processes, such as tissue formation, nerve function, and pH balance. The loss of potassium and sodium can be detrimental to overall health. When a senior is depleted of these essential minerals, their body can quickly encounter a range of muscular, cardiac, and neurological symptoms. In severe cases, it can lead to seizures, irregular heartbeat, and fatality.

There are many reasons why seniors become dehydrated. Seniors may go about their days without drinking water because their sense of thirst diminishes with age. Spending too much time outdoors can leave seniors drained due to excessive sweating. Gut issues like diarrhea can make their bodies lose more water than usual. Dementia and memory-related diseases like Alzheimer’s can make seniors forget to drink water. Dysphagia, a condition that causes difficulties in swallowing, can prevent seniors from getting adequate fluids. Others with diabetes may experience increased urination needs, hence reduced water content. In some cases, an uncontrolled mix of medications and drugs like diuretics, laxatives, antihistamines, and corticosteroids can lead to dehydration in seniors by urging them to urinate.

 

Symptoms of Dehydration

What happens when seniors don’t drink enough water? Thirstiness is not the only sign telling seniors that their bodies lack water. Plus, feeling thirsty means a person’s water content is already low. Other signs of dehydration to watch out for in seniors include:

  • Fast breathing
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored and strong-smelling urine
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness or lightheartedness
  • Dry mouth, lip, and tongue.

 

How Much Water Is Enough for Seniors?

Drinking 6-8 cups of water daily is the rule of thumb for staying cool and hydrated. However, dealing with hydration in seniors requires a different approach, with their body weight determining their daily water intake. Seniors are advised to drink ½ or ⅓ of their body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, a senior weighing 140 pounds should drink at least 45-70 ounces of water daily.

However, the amount of water consumed should be reconsidered based on seniors’ health, living environment, physical level, and unique needs. It means seniors living in hotter areas may need more water than recommended. Some medications and health conditions may cause seniors to use the bathroom more frequently, so drinking more water to compensate for lost fluid is necessary to maintain their water content.

 

Hydration Tips for Seniors

Some simple hydration tips for seniors to get the water they need include:

 

Set Up Reminders

Drinking plenty of water is the quickest way to increase fluid intake. While this hydration tip is pretty straightforward, many seniors can spend their days without a drop of water or not drinking enough. How to prevent it? Setting up reminders on the phone is a good way to remind your seniors that it is time to drink water.

Another tip to ensure your seniors are hydrated is to make drinking water a routine. A hydration routine makes it much easier for seniors to control their water intake, especially if their memory is hazy. They could drink a cup of water after waking up, before taking a morning shower, or during and after breakfast/lunch/dinner; it should largely depend on each senior’s personal daily routine. If your parents take daily medications, remind them to drink a full glass of water.

 

Eat Water-Rich Foods

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Drinking water is a simple fix for dehydration. Still, it is not the only way to keep the body hydrated, particularly when some people dislike the bland taste of water. Did you know that daily foods can help seniors ward off dehydration? Incorporating several fruits and vegetables into seniors’ diets is an excellent way to meet their hydration needs.

Fruits and vegetables rich in water include oranges, watermelon, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, grapes, peaches, bell peppers, cantaloupes, yogurt, celery, cabbage, lettuce, and grapefruit. Not only do they taste better than plain water, but they are also abundant in vitamins and minerals.

 

Consider Fluid Alternatives

Another way to encourage water intake for seniors is to look into other fluid alternatives. Besides fruits and vegetables, eating soups and drinking bone broth are nutritious ways to keep seniors hydrated and nourished. Infusing water bottles with fresh fruits like strawberries, lemons, and mint leaves to encourage your seniors to drink more water if they find drinking water difficult.

Coconut water is a great alternative to help seniors hydrate because it is high in electrolytes. In addition to hydration, it also provides many incredible healthful benefits, such as reducing fatigue, lowering blood pressure, supporting digestion, detoxifying the body, preventing kidney stones, and so on. Other fluid alternatives to water that taste better include unsweetened tea and freshly squeezed juices.

 

Keep Water Bottles Around

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Placing water bottles around the house is a good tip for seniors to reach their hydration goals. This is especially convenient for seniors who can’t move around their houses due to mobility issues. Having a water bottle ready nearby can help seniors quench their thirst immediately and avoid dehydration throughout the day. Invest in quality stainless steel water bottles to carry water on the go. This is a great idea to ensure seniors always have access to water when outdoors.

 

Limit Alcohol and Sugar Intake

Most people often turn to sugary beverages to extinguish their thirst instead of water. However, health experts warn that consuming too much sugar can speed up the dehydration process. Drinks loaded with sugar are also often high in caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic substance that increases urination frequency. Similarly, cutting down your seniors’ consumption of wine, beer, and other alcoholic drinks is critical to minimize their risk of dehydration.

 

Drink Water During Exercise

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Exercising and engaging in physical activity can make seniors lose more water content than usual, especially in the summer heat. That’s why drinking water before, during, and after exercise is essential to replace lost fluids and balance electrolyte levels, preventing dehydration in the long term. Remind your seniors to refrain from exhausting themselves and taking breaks in between.

Another tip for seniors to reduce their risk of dehydration is to wear loose and comfortable clothes and invest in cotton and linen garments. Breathable clothes help prevent excessive sweating by cooling off the body temperature naturally.

Overall, choosing time wisely is a great way to prevent unwanted dehydration. Summertime is not an ideal time for venturing outside. Going outside before 10:00 AM and after 4:00 PM is safer to avoid extreme heat and UV exposure.

 

Monitor Indoor Living

Sometimes, staying indoors all day is not always a safe way to stay hydrated. Sitting in a hot and poorly ventilated room can leave seniors mildly dehydrated. Close the blinds and curtains to prevent heat penetration. Use fans and turn on air conditioners to maintain the house temperature, especially during summer days.

 

Acquire Professional Help

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Connecting with a doctor is advisable if your parents’ dehydration symptoms worsen. The doctor can assess their health and medications, rule out the causes of dehydration, and offer the best interventions to resolve dehydration. If your parents show signs of severe dehydration, hand them a cup of coconut water or Gatorade for an instant boost of electrolytes before driving them to the hospital.

 

If you have questions about hydration tips for seniors or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more. 

At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks Senior Living Communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.

For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

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