Nutritionists Can Help Prevent Dehydration in Seniors

Julia Little  |  April 30, 2014

Although the warmer weather is undoubtedly appreciated by many people, nutritionists may look at the rising number on their thermometers with a couple of concerns. The hotter it becomes, the higher the risk of dehydration individuals face. While this worry applies to everyone, you may want to take extra care when preventing this condition among your clients in senior living communities. Fortunately, this health issue can be easily avoided by helping the seniors in your life take proactive measures to stay hydrated and steer clear of any heat-related incidents.

It is critical for people to stay hydrated at any time of the year, but during warmer months, it is especially important. The hotter it is, the more fluid individuals lose through sweat. Because of this, seniors, along with everyone else, need to drink 64 ounces of liquid each day.

Not all liquids are equal 
The solution to keeping dehydration at bay seems to be relatively straightforward: drink liquid. However, a number of people may not be aware that it's not only the quantity, but also the kind of beverage that counts. Cleveland Clinic points out that while guzzling various types of liquid may assist seniors in replenishing any water lost through sweating, some beverages can actually deplete their bodies of fluid. For this reason, sharing vital information with seniors about which beverages do and do not help hydrate them will make it easier for them to make better choices.

If seniors participate in a normal amount of physical activity each day - no more than an hour at a low to moderate level of intensity - then water is the best solution to quench their thirst and keep their bodies properly hydrated. If they are working up an ample amount of sweat, they may want to incorporate some sports drinks into their daily dose of water. Excessive perspiration can deplete their natural supply of electrolytes, which can be restored with these beverages. Sports drinks should be consumed in moderation, though, as they contain high levels of sugar, and seniors with diabetes must exercise additional caution with regard to these liquids. 

As seniors pump themselves full of these beneficial beverages, you need to ensure they aren't counteracting these efforts by drinking diuretics, according to Assisted Living Today. Let them know that beverages such as coffee, tea and any other caffeinated drinks will actual cause them to go to the bathroom more, draining their bodies of critical fluid. Additionally, you will want to discourage them from consuming soda as a means of keeping hydrated. Even diet or decaffeinated kinds of soda are full of chemicals, and they should know of all the drawbacks that these unhealthy beverages present. 

When water doesn't cut it
If seniors have trouble drinking enough water or express disdain for the flavorless beverage, then you may want to help by giving them a list of fruits and vegetables that are packed with liquid and promote hydration. For instance, people may like to swap out a couple of glasses of water for pieces of watermelon or celery sticks. By disclosing all of their options, you could increase the odds of them maintaining the right amount of fluid.

Watch for warning signs
There are times when even the most cautious of people could become dehydrated. Bearing this in mind, tell seniors the array of symptoms associated with this condition so they will know whether they have to head to the hospital. Indications include a sensitivity to heat or appearing flushed. Additionally, they may feel tired or dizzy, lacking an appetite. 

Before people get to this point, however, they can identify early signs of dehydration, such as thirst or dark-colored urine. If seniors see any of these, they need to increase their fluid intake and, if these symptoms are extreme, go to the doctor.