Summer is Here! Hydration Tips for Seniors
Maintaining proper hydration can be a challenge as we age. If hydration is not a priority it can lead to bigger problems, such as low blood pressure and urinary tract infections. Proper hydration also helps to keep the body and vitals regulated. Dehydration is caused when the body loses fluids and electrolytes faster that they can be replaced. Several common conditions speed up this loss among seniors:
* As we get older, our body's water content decreases
* Many prescription medications have a diuretic effect
* Underlying health conditions can make us less able to adapt to heat
* Swallowing disorders make seniors reluctant to drink enough water voluntarily
* Diarrhea and vomiting contribute to loss of hydration
* Environmental Stress: With age, the body cannot manage heat as efficiently and we face a higher risk of developing dehydration in high heat
Things You Should Know About Senior Dehydration
* Dehydration can accelerate or bring about emergency hospitalization and/or increase the risk of hospital stays
* Dehydration has been associated with increased mortality rates among older adults
* Dehydration has been associated with many elderly health issues, including elderly confusion, impaired cognition, falling, and constipation
* Dehydration is a frequent cause of hospitalization of older adults and one of the ten most frequent diagnoses responsible for hospitalization in the U.S.
It is also estimated that avoidable costs of hospitalizations from dehydration is $1.14 billion annually.
What Steps Can You Take to Prevent Dehydration?
1. Try to drink a full 8 ounce glass of water each time you take medication
2. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day
3. Coffee, tea, and sugary drinks do not count toward your daily fluid intake
4. If water is too bland, try adding fruit and/or herbs to flavor water
Symptoms of Heat Related Emergencies
Headache Dizziness Lack of Sweat
Weakness Cramping Stomach Problems or Nausea
Quickened Heart Rate Difficult or shallow breathing
Each of these is a sign of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. If you notice these symptoms, take steps to cool off quickly and seek medical attention.
Summer is an exciting time, but it's also naturally taxing on the body. Stay safe outdoors by moving slowly, sticking to the shade, and having easy access to water.