Summer is here and that means rising temperatures and time spent in the hot sun. An important aspect of health in the warmer months is proper hydration, especially for older adults. As we spend time with our clients aging in place, Senior Home Companions seeks to educate and improve hydration for their health and well-being with the following tips.
Drinking water is always important no matter your age. Hydration keeps joints well-lubricated, prevents infection and keeps organs functioning as they should. Hydration can improve sleep quality, brain cognition and our moods. Especially important in the summer, hydration helps the body regulate temperature.
So we all know that we should drink more water. But science shows that hydration in older adults is even more essential. As we age, our body’s ability to conserve water is reduced, in addition to our sense of thirst. Some medications can cause frequent urination, and those who experience incontinence may purposefully limit fluid intake to avoid having accidents.
Multiple studies prove specific benefits to proper fluid consumption for seniors include fewer falls, lower rates of constipation, better orthopedic rehab outcomes and even reduced risk of male bladder cancer. Adequate hydration has also been associated with lower rates of fatal coronary heart disease and postprandial hypotension.
Health authorities often have differing opinions on the amount of water individuals should drink each day. While the common recommendation is eight 8-ounce glasses per day, check with your physician! This is a reasonable goal, but some may need more or less.
Also note that it is important to drink water primarily to stay hydrated. If you are caring for a loved one who is bored with just water, try adding some fruit or flavoring to it. Other drinks should be offered in moderation. Juice is high in sugar for diabetics, and caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect.
As you or a caregiver works with your aging loved one, there are early and sometimes subtle signs of dehydration . These include headache, constipation, dry mouth, lack of energy or muscle cramps. Keeping an eye on urine color can also be helpful; it should be clear or light yellow if you are adequately hydrated. A simple test is to gently “pinch” the skin on the back of the hand; if the skin stays “pinched,” even after it’s been released, there is a good chance dehydration is occurring.
Severe signs of dehydration are cause for medical attention, and can include reduced urination, dark-colored urine, confusion, low blood pressure, rapid breathing, weak pulse, or cold extremities.
If you are concerned about the well-being of an aging loved one at home, contact Senior Home Companions today. We provide trusted companionship and daily/personal care to seniors so that they can stay safe and sound at home and allow their families peace of mind all year round.