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Learning about, preventing dehydration for seniors for healthier living

About dehydration:
If you are feeling thirsty, then chances are you are already in the early stages of dehydration.

Dehydration is a serious, and dangerous issue, for people both young and old. Many people let their level of thirst be a guide in determining how hydrated they are and take steps to adequately meet their daily hydration goals. The symptoms can be small, but have a big effect on the body.

Dehydration, is simply losing more water than you take in, and it can cause unclear thinking, mood changes, cause your body to overheat, constipation, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, or even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  sets some rules for daily fluid intake (total water), which is defined as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages.

General recommendations for women is set at approximately 91 ounces of total water each day, and men an average of approximately 125 ounces of total water. About 80% of an individual’s total water intake comes from drinking water and other beverages, including caffeinated beverages. The other 20% comes from food.

Dehydration & Seniors:

There are several reasons dehydration can occur more frequently in the elderly. The first reason is many seniors are on medications that may influence their level of hydration.

Additionally, as we age, our sense of thirst may not be as strong as it was when we were younger and more active. So even though you may not feel thirsty, it is possible you are in the early stages of dehydration.

Mobility: Often when we are walking we may pass a water fountain and stop for a moment to get a quick drink. For some nursing home patients, mobility might be an issue, so they may have to rely on the team at their center to help ensure they have access to water, juice, food and other means to prevent dehydration.

As we age, even without kidney disease, our kidneys undergo a gradual decline in the rate in which our kidneys filter blood. This means the kidneys are not as efficient in concentrating urine in less water and older people lose more water that way.

Helpful tips on staying hydrated:

  1. Keep a bottle or glass of water by your bed. Each morning, start your day with water. If you have slept eight hours or more, you are likely to be dehydrated.
     
  2. Like the first tip, simply keep water in front of you throughout the day! People are more likely to drink water if it is front of them.
     
  3. Although coffee and tea are mainly comprised of water, they act as a diuretic causing you to have to urinate more, and thus lose water.  
     
  4. Certain foods, or food groups contain water. Fruits, vegetables, and soups are a great way to supplement your daily water intake with healthy, nutritious and low-calorie foods.

Water is an important of our daily lives, and we all need to ensure we take steps to we are drinking adequate amounts of water for our age and health. Besides staying hydrated, there are numerous health benefits to increasing our daily fluid intake of water. From increased energy levels to better looking skin and a zero calories alternative to sugar heavy sodas, water can improve our overall health.