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Blog | February 25, 2022

Dehydration is an Often-Overlooked Health Risk for Older Adults

Imagine you’ve been out working in the garden all morning on a beautiful summer day. As you enter the house you walk straight to the kitchen sink. There’s only one thing on your mind: an ice-cold glass of water.

Most of us know this feeling of thirst, but as you age, that sense of thirst diminishes. Even when your body needs to be replenished with water you might not realize it, and as a result, many older adults don’t drink enough liquids. It’s not known exactly what causes this reduction in thirst, but the consequences of it are well known: By the time they feel thirsty, they’re already in the early stages of dehydration, which is a common cause of hospitalization among older adults.

Older Adults are also at greater risk for dehydration because of how body composition changes with age. As we age, our bodies naturally contain less water than children, or even younger adults. Water is necessary for nearly every bodily function, from lubricating joints to regulating body temperature and pumping blood to the muscles. Not getting enough of it can have serious health consequences.

Compounding the problem, symptoms of dehydration in the elderly often go unrecognized. Many of the earliest signs, like dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and muscle cramps, are nonspecific and could be easily attributed to other medical conditions, medications, or natural effects of aging.

Mix it up

Water is best, but we all know that drinking water all day every day can get boring. So, try some infused fruit or flavoring in it, or switching it up with some milk or juice.

Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea and shouldn’t be counted toward a daily fluid intake goal. However, there are many foods that can contribute to your water intake. The top seven, with 95% – 91% water content, from highest to lowest are: cucumbers, celery, iceberg lettuce, zucchini, cauliflower, watermelon, and strawberries.

Make hydration an all-day event

Help your loved one build hydration into different parts of their day. Encourage them to have something to drink with every meal, for example. They should also be drinking water before and after exercise.

What I often see in our advanced older adults – people in their 80s and 90s – is that they can’t sit down and drink a full 8-ounce glass of water. It fills them up, causing bloating and frequent trips to the bathroom. Rather than drinking a whole glass, little sips throughout the day are better.

Note: for more information https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hydration-tips-for-seniors-205594.htm