The Importance of Hydration for the Older Generation
Water isn’t just for quenching our thirst on a hot day. It is a vital component for nearly every bodily function, from pumping blood through our body to keeping our joints lubricated and working smoothly. Moreover, it is essential for maintaining our overall health.
As we age, our need for proper hydration becomes more important, as our bodies are forced to compensate for health issues and reduced function that naturally come with aging. So whether you choose to get your 8 cups a day using natural water filters or out the bottle, finding simple ways to increase water intake will keep you feeling hydrated and refreshed.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when we fail to consume enough fluids for our body’s needs. This can lead to multiple health complications, including urinary tract infections, heart problems, heat stroke, and kidney failure.
Because dehydration affects the health of the cells in your body, it lowers your ability to fight off infections and diseases. It can also prevent the body from adequately healing from any injuries or illnesses.
Why does it Affect the Elderly More?
A study conducted by the Los Angeles School of Nursing at the University of California found that nearly 40% of older people may suffer from chronic dehydration. And there are several reasons why seniors need help maintaining proper hydration levels and water intake.
As we age, our appetites and thirst start to diminish. When our body craves fluids, we might be completely unaware as we don’t experience that familiar indication letting us know. Furthermore, the composition of our body changes as we get older, leaving us with less water in our body overall. Finally, with the increased medication needed, older people are more likely to take medication that causes dehydration.
The symptoms of dehydration are the same for people of all ages. And it is imperative to be aware of these symptoms, as even mild levels of this condition can lead to a wide range of uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms.
Warning signs and symptoms include dark-colored urine or urinating less frequently, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, irritability, muscle cramps in arms and legs, fatigue or weakness, and confusion with decreased cognitive function.
How much Water do You Need to Stay Hydrated?
As a general rule of thumb, taking one-third of your total body weight and drinking that number in ounces is advised. So, for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for 50 ounces of water daily. However, as we are unique in how our bodies function and potential health issues we may have, it is strongly advised to consult your GP on a more accurate number for which to aim.
They will consider your medical history, current medications, and overall body condition when choosing a healthy and realistic number to maintain.
Ways to Get Hydrated
While increasing your water intake might sound straightforward to most, there are some who need help with meeting their goals. But the process of getting there doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. You can take simple steps daily to ensure your body receives the water it needs to function.
If you have trouble drinking the appropriate amount of water daily, switch to eating water-rich foods with every meal. This includes watermelon, cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries, and celery. Eating them in their raw and uncooked forms further provides valuable nutrients to your diet.
Soups, stews, and broths are another excellent way to boost your water intake, especially during the cold winter months. But be aware of sodium levels if you need to be mindful of this.
The easiest way to achieve any daily task is by building it into your routine. This will take away the continuous effort needed to complete it and allow you to go about your day without focusing on drinking enough water.
In the beginning, make it a point to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up, after every meal, and before and after any exercise or physical activities you do. It will quickly become a habit, allowing you to focus on other things.
Alcohol is classified as a diuretic, meaning it sends prompts to your body to remove fluids from your bloodstream. This is why high levels of dehydration and weakness always accompany hangovers.
By limiting your alcohol intake or eliminating it altogether, your body will be able to hang onto more water. Alternatively, you can drink a glass of water after every glass of alcohol you drink to stay hydrated.
Easy to Grab
Having a bottle or glass of water at hand for easy access will increase your chances of drinking more throughout the day. Purchase a reusable water bottle that you can fill first thing in the morning and carry with you wherever you go. If you are more of a homebody, a lightweight water jug and glass next to your favorite chair will do the trick.
Standard, clean water is always best when it comes to staying hydrated but drinking plain water daily can become tiresome. So instead of switching to an entirely different beverage, choose other forms of water to give yourself something new.
You can add various different foods to your water, like lemon slices, strawberries, cucumber, and mint. In addition, you can opt for carbonated water or water with flavor drops.