Drinking water is something many of us forget to do. However, failing to get enough water can harm our health. As we get older, drinking water becomes more critical than ever, and seniors are at a higher risk of dehydration. When dehydration sets in, many health problems can be the result.
This blog will discuss a few common reasons seniors become dehydrated easier than others. We’ll also point out some key ways to improve hydration throughout the day.
Why Seniors Are More at Risk
Studies show that only 22% of Americans drink the recommended amount of water every day. While drinking water is a hassle for many, seniors have a more challenging time staying on top of their hydration needs.
Here are reasons why seniors are more at risk:
Seniors are generally less active than the general population. Moving around can be a serious challenge with aches and pains, injuries, and discomfort. That said, these mobility issues can prevent many seniors from getting up to grab a drink of water. If this happens every day, it can lead to a severe dehydration problem.
Diminished Kidney Function
As we get older, our kidneys sometimes don’t work as effectively, which can cause a fluid imbalance in the body and make seniors more dehydrated than the younger population. If you’re concerned about dehydration, be sure to visit your doctor and have your kidneys checked. Poor kidney function could make dehydration a much more severe problem.
The feeling of thirst is another huge factor to consider. Our bodies make us feel thirsty to prevent dehydration. However, this thirst signal diminishes as we age. Seniors don’t feel thirst as strongly as the average person, leading to an increased risk of dehydration.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s can cause hydration issues simply because people with these issues often forget to drink enough water. While their body may give off the sensation of thirst, the impaired brain may not understand what to do about it. The brain may also never receive these signals at all.
Seniors often take multiple medications. However, it’s important to note that many pills can lead to dehydration. Talk to your doctor before starting a new medication, and ask about the risk of dehydration. While several medicines can cause hydration problems, diuretics are one of the biggest offenders.
Signs of Dehydration
If you or a loved one is an aging senior, you’ll want to understand the signs of dehydration. As these can be subtle, pay close attention to the following symptoms:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Infrequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
- Lack of tears
While the symptoms above can improve by drinking enough water, some other signs require immediate medical attention. Here are the more severe symptoms to consider:
- Problems keeping fluids down
- Diarrhea or vomiting lasting longer than 24 hours
- Feeling overly tired for no apparent reason
- Trouble walking or moving around
If you notice any of these signs, call your doctor as soon as possible. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to some life-threatening conditions. These serious health issues include urinary tract infections, kidney failure, seizures, heatstroke, and hypovolemic shock.
Tips for Improving Hydration
Luckily, there are some quick and easy ways to improve hydration. Here are some tips to stay on track:
No matter your age, remembering to drink enough water isn’t easy. Consider making reminders to drink water throughout the day. You can easily do this from your smartphone or a timer.
Consider Your Diet
While water and fluids impact your hydration levels, your diet also plays a role. Try incorporating more foods with higher water content, such as watermelon, celery, and strawberries. Yogurt, soups, and broth are other hydration-promoting foods to consider.
It’s important to also prepare for situations where your hydration levels are more at risk. For example, if you’re about to exercise or go outside in humid weather, you’ll want to drink plenty of water. These situations can drop your hydration levels in a hurry.
Focus on Healthy Fluids
To improve hydration, you’ll want to limit coffee, soda, and tea. These all can lead to dehydration. If you drink these beverages, be sure to drink plenty of water.
Understand the Signs of Dehydration
By understanding the signs of dehydration, you can limit these uncomfortable symptoms and prevent them in the first place.
While staying hydrated is difficult at any age, it’s even more critical for seniors. By understanding more about dehydration and how to prevent it, you can avoid many health problems.