But at a certain age (over 65), daily hydration becomes a challenge as well as a matter of life and death.
Why? Because dehydration is common in seniors due to decreased feelings of thirst, medications and diseases that increase fluid needs, and decrease in overall food and beverage intake.
Dehydration can cause confusion, fatigue, hot or cold sensations, muscle cramping, headache, dry mouth, eyes and skin, constipation, dangerous changes to blood pressure, and abnormal blood chemistry (ex: blood sugar, electrolytes).
Dehydration left untreated requires medical attention and can be deadly. It can send you to the hospital in a hurry and into a coma.
How much fluid is this, exactly?
If you are 65 or older, your mission is to get in at least 8 glasses (1 glass=8 oz) of fluid every day. If you have kidney or heart problems, please ask your doctor for specific amounts.
Remember that all liquid counts (milk, soup, coffee and tea) and some fruits and vegetables too.
Caregivers should make sure the older person has water by his or her side at all times. Encourage frequent drinking in moderate amounts.
How to reach this goal?
Drink 1 glass with each meal and one in between meals to make sure you get enough.
Keep fluid in arm’s reach throughout the day and stash one in the car or your bag when you leave the house.
- Older people who get enough water tend to suffer less constipation, use less laxatives, have fewer falls and, for men, may have a lower risk of bladder cancer. Less constipation may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Drinking at least five 8-ounce glasses of water daily reduces the risk of fatal coronary heart disease among older adults.
The Science of Aging
Scientists warn that the ability to be aware of and respond to thirst is slowly blunted as we age. As a result, older people do not feel thirst as readily as younger people do. This increases the chances of them consuming less water and consequently suffering dehydration.
Less body fluids, lower kidney function.
The body loses water as we age because of the loss of muscle mass and a corresponding increase in fat cells.
In addition, the kidneys’ ability to remove toxins from the blood progressively declines with age. This means the kidneys are not as efficient in concentrating urine in less water, thus older people lose more water than younger ones.
Drink lots of water! The chances of your getting too much water are slim to none, so drink up!
Contact LifeCall Medical Alert Systems, one of the leading providers of BOSCH in-home health care monitoring solutions for seniors and at-risk persons seeking to retain their independence and remain in their own homes. www.lifecall.com