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The Importance of Hydration for Seniors

It’s hot out there! Most of the country has had a sizzling summer so far, and Georgia is no exception. It seems every weather forecast comes with an admonition: stay hydrated!

If you’re a senior or someone caring for an elder loved one, hydration should top your list of priorities. Without adequate moisture the human body can’t function properly – and seniors are at greater risk. So, while we talk more about staying hydrated in hot weather, it’s just as important all year round.

Happy grandmother gardening on a sunny day

Humidity can increase dehydration.

That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? High humidity can be good for your skin, but not for your internal body. When it’s both hot and humid outside, it feels even hotter. Your body works overly hard to cool itself by sweating. But the sweat doesn’t evaporate as it should. Since you don’t feel cooler, your body just keeps sweating, eliminating too much moisture.

The net effect is just the same as if you were in a hot dry location and perspiring heavily.

Water is essential for life.

Your body needs water to support healthy blood flow, joints and muscles, and organ function. Did you know that the brain is 73% water? Dehydration causes it to shrink, and prolonged dehydration can speed the aging process and onset of dementia. Dehydration can also lead to constipation or digestive problems.

It’s not simply a matter of quenching your thirst

Your body becomes dehydrated when it loses more water than it is taking in. You don’t have to feel thirsty to need replenishment. Yet sense of thirst diminishes as we age, making thirst an even less reliable guide.

In addition, seniors may become dehydrated due to:

  •         Medications that cause increased perspiration or urination
  •         Limited mobility that makes it harder to go get a glass of water
  •         Dementia – forgetting to eat or drink as needed
  •         Urinary incontinence, which may be seen as a reason not to drink water

Fortunately, healthy hydration is something seniors can control.

How much should you drink?

The National Council on Aging uses a simple formula: divide your body weight by 3, and that’s the number of ounces of water you need daily. If you weigh 150 pounds, for instance, you should consume 50 oz. – about six 8-oz. glassfuls.

That sounds like a lot, but you don’t have to stand over the sink and guzzle. You can blend hydration into your daily routine so it becomes a healthy habit instead of a chore.

Creative ways to get your daily water allotment.

  1. Just say no to boring.

Water may be considered the gold standard of hydrating beverages, but drinking water doesn’t have to be boring.

  •         Choose sparkling water or club soda instead
  •         Perk it up by adding flavoring, or purchase pre-flavored water. (Note that some brands also contain artificial ingredients or sugar.)
  1. Start your day with a glass of water.

Drink another glass with dinner and supper.

  1. Keep a water bottle at hand at all times, so it’s easy to sip frequently. And take it with you when you go, whether you’re headed to an activity here at Winnwood or off-site for a hike or shopping.
  2. When you take medications, drink a full glass of water rather than a minimal sip.
  3. Drink something other than water.

There are plenty of other choices that are just as useful.

  •         Coffee or tea.
  •         Low-fat milk
  •         Broth
  •         Try coconut water for a refreshing alternative

Technically, caffeinated drinks can promote water loss instead of retention, since caffeine works as a mild diuretic. However, you’d have to drink a many cups of coffee or tea to consume enough caffeine to matter. Check out this chart to compare caffeine levels in various types of coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks.

  1. Eat your water

Many popular fruits and veggies have a high water content. So you can munch your way to hydration with some tasty slices of watermelon or cucumber or a handful of blueberries.

  1. Make it fun!
  •         A vacuum-insulated water bottle will keep your morning coffee piping hot, then later in the day it will keep your cold beverage icily refreshing.
  •         A shoulder strap is a great accessory to carry your water bottle hands-free for walking, etc.
  •         Add a colorful cozy to easily identify your water bottle.

Hydration helps seniors enjoy their retirement.

At Winnwood Retirement Community, health and wellness are our top priority for every resident. That includes details such as educating our community members on the importance of hydration for seniors and helping them find ways to take in plenty of water or other beverages. We know that well-hydrated seniors aren’t only healthier, they have more fun! To learn more about life in our community for seniors, contact us today

 

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