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Hydration Tips for Seniors

June 22, 2021

Did you know the body is 60% water? And our skin, which is literally our body’s external barrier and protector, relies on proper hydration to be healthy and strong. Water is essential for the healthy functioning of our immune system (and nearly every other part of our body.)

Dehydration — when the body loses more fluid than it takes in — is most common during the hot summer months and is especially dangerous for seniors. That’s because aging causes a decrease in total body fluids, a lower thirst response, and decreased kidney function. Plus, many older adults take medications that can lead to increased water loss through more frequent urination.

If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. The most common symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Decreased urination
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle cramping
  • Sunken eyes
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Urine that’s a darker color than normal

To prevent dehydration this summer, follow these hydration recommendations for older adults:

Have a Daily Water Goal

On average, 80% of fluid intake comes from what you drink, and the other 20% comes from the foods you eat. Today (and every day moving forward), make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Strive for about:

  • 5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men
  • 5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women

Eat More Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

As stated above, part of your fluid intake comes from the foods you eat. If you weave more moisture-rich foods into your diet, you’ll be better hydrated. Aim for foods that contain at least 85% water, such as:

  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Watermelon
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries

The list — which includes plenty of green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits — goes on. You’re sure to find a mix of produce you already love to eat.

Set a Reminder to Drink

If you have a smartphone with an alarm, set it to remind you to stop what you’re doing and drink water every so often. For example, you could aim for once every 30 minutes. Find a cadence that works best for you and helps you to accomplish your daily water intake goal. Make the alarm loud enough to hear, and take it seriously when it goes off (no snoozing allowed).

Drink More When Exercising

It goes without saying that exercise, especially in the summer heat, speeds up dehydration. Always have water with you during physical activity. Fill up on water before you start exercising; then take breaks as often as you need to drink. Once your workout is complete, fill up again with plenty of fluids.

Mix It Up

If you’re someone who gets tired of drinking plain water, add some flavor. Mix fresh fruit like lemon, watermelon or berries into your water. It’s a subtle way to add flavor without adding extra sugar, calories or processed ingredients. You could also opt for sugar-free sports drinks, iced tea or lemonade. But stay away from too much caffeine, which can actually undo some of the hydration benefits of fluids.

Keep Water With You

Convenience makes staying hydrated easier. How can you drink enough fluids if you don’t have water nearby? Keep a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go. Bring it on your walks, keep it on your bedside nightstand, and take it in the car if you travel somewhere. Think of it like your wallet, phone or purse — you can’t leave the house without it.

Staying hydrated in the summer may be more challenging for seniors, but it’s essential for health and wellness. Make an extra effort this year to drink plenty of water. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel when your body is fueled with enough fluids.

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