Why Are Seniors at Higher Risk for Dehydration?
Summer provides most of us with opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. From daily walks to picnics in the park, sunshine and warmer weather lift the spirit and boost mood. Spending more time outdoors, however, comes with increased risk for dehydration.
Seniors are already prone to dehydration. This can be due to age-related changes that impair ability to sense thirst. Other times, it is because the body doesn’t adjust to changes in temperature as quickly as it used to.
Here are a few more reasons older adults experience dehydration:
- Mobility problems: Seniors who have mobility problems may feel like it is too much work to go back and forth to the kitchen or water fountain for water. They also know drinking more water will require them to make more trips to and from the bathroom. The older adult might fear these added trips to the kitchen and bathroom increase their risk for a fall.
- Incontinence: For an older adult struggling with incontinence, limiting water intake lowers their risk of having an accident. This is especially true when the senior is outside or away from home where it is more difficult to quickly access a bathroom.
- Memory loss: An older adult who has Alzheimer’s may be thirsty but forget where to go to get a drink of water. Some seniors with memory loss have trouble recognizing the body’s cues that indicate it’s time for a drink.
What can you do to help a senior in your life stay hydrated this summer? We have some suggestions you might find useful.
Preventing Dehydration During Summer Months
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests adults should consume 48–64 ounces of liquid each day unless advised differently by a physician. If your loved one isn’t keen on drinking that much plain water, you might need to find creative ways to help them stay hydrated.
Here are some ideas for promoting good hydration:
- Encourage the senior to drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning. It not only helps with hydration, but also flushes toxins that build up in the body overnight.
- Remind the older adult to drink frequently throughout the day instead of waiting until they feel thirsty. Suggest they keep a bottle of water with them all day long.
- Invest in BPA-free bottles the senior can fill and store in the refrigerator. Number the bottles 1–8 and encourage the senior to drink each one of them over the course of the day.
- If your loved one doesn’t like the taste of plain water, suggest they add flavor with lemon slices, berries, or mint sprigs. Flavored sparkling water is another option to consider.
- Many fruits and vegetables are also high in water content. Incorporating raw foods like melon, cucumber, berries, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, oranges, spinach, and broccoli into the diet can also help pump up hydration.
You can also encourage your senior loved one to take steps to reduce fluid loss caused by perspiration. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Dressing in lightweight, breathable clothing.
- Staying indoors or in the shade during the hottest hours of day, which are typically between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Wearing a hat with a brim that shades the face.
If you are the caregiver for a senior, we encourage you to bookmark The Sunrise Blog and stop back often. We share the latest news and research on topics ranging from golf vacations for seniors to talking with an older loved one about finances.
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