Summer provides opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. After a long winter stuck inside, a lot of people look forward to it. From picnics and barbecues to outdoor concerts and beach trips, many people spend summer largely outside.
For older adults, however, summer presents unique health risks. One is dehydration. While heat and humidity can be a dehydration or heat stroke threat to people of all ages, older adults are especially vulnerable.
Sometimes the increased risk is caused by a medical condition that weakens a senior’s sense of thirst. Other older adults have problems adjusting to temperature changes. Their bodies don’t produce the sweat they need to cool down.
Taking extra steps to stay hydrated during the summer is important.
How Much Liquid Do You Need During the Summer?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends adults consume 48–64 ounces of fluid each day. If you are outdoors in the heat, you should consume even more.
Fluid can come in the form of fruit and vegetable juices, soup, water, and milk. While sodas and coffee are liquids, many health professionals say they shouldn’t be counted in your daily total. If they contain caffeine, which is a diuretic, they can increase the risk for dehydration.
Tips for Improving Hydration
These tips can help seniors stay hydrated:
- Drink a few glasses of water or juice with every meal.
- Instead of taking a few sips of water with medication, drink a full glass.
- Make water more appealing by adding lemon, lime, berries, or sprigs of mint or rosemary.
- Invest in several stainless steel water bottles or small thermoses to refill and reuse throughout the day.
- Keep handy a list of water-rich fruits and vegetables to incorporate into meals and snacks. Melon, berries, cucumber, celery, bell peppers, oranges, spinach, and romaine all pump up hydration.
- Drink a bottle or glass of water before and while you exercise.
- Wear a hat that shields the face to keep your body temperature lower, reducing the risk for dehydration.
Our final tip is to limit consumption of alcohol on hot days or when spending time outdoors. Like caffeine, it can cause fluid loss that increases the chance for dehydration.
Warning Signs of Dehydration
It’s also important to learn warning signs that could indicate the early stages of dehydration. They include:
- dry mouth
- muscle weakness.
If a senior you are the caregiver for is exhibiting these symptoms, call the doctor or seek treatment at an urgent care center or a hospital emergency room. The older adult might need IV therapy to restore fluid levels.