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We don’t often think about the importance of staying hydrated. We may go for hours and hours without a sip. We may wait until we’re thirsty to get a drink.
Generally, you should drink ⅓ of your weight (in pounds) in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 50 ounces of water (or other hydrating beverages) daily.
Many health problems and medications can affect the amount of water we need, so it’s best to talk with your doctor about your specific needs.
As we get older, our ability to regulate the amount of water in our body declines. What’s more, our lifestyle and habits may change over time. We may have been more active, naturally drinking more water. But now we don’t exercise as much or at high intensity.
We may have commuted to work every day with a drink in the cup holder. We sat at our desks with a tumbler of water within reach, a constant reminder to take a drink.
For seniors, we need to maintain a 55% level of water in our bodies. Dehydration, even in mild cases, can harm health and exacerbate existing medical conditions. Symptoms like confusion, dizziness, fatigue, joint pain and constipation can result from inadequate hydration.
The importance of staying hydrated extends beyond everyday life for seniors. It becomes even more critical when recovering from an illness, injury, or medical procedure. During these times, the body requires additional support to heal and regain strength and adequate hydration plays a vital role.
Some of the ways hydration helps you heal include:
Many of us take multiple medications, some of which may cause an increase in urination. What’s more, many chronic health conditions, like diabetes and kidney disease, can contribute to this loss of fluids. Losing too much fluid is even more dangerous in summer.
During the hotter months, the combination of higher temperatures and perspiration can lead to a greater risk of dehydration. Heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke are also more common in seniors and can be life-threatening.
Look for shade, go into an air-conditioned building, and avoid prolonged exposure to heat and sun when temperatures and humidity rise.
Drinking enough water isn’t the only way to prevent dehydration. Other hydrating beverages and foods are also options.
Foods like fruits and vegetables with high water content can help also us stay hydrated: strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, celery, and cucumbers. Beverages like herbal teas can increase hydration too. But it’s essential to limit caffeine and alcohol. They can have a diuretic effect.
Remember that staying hydrated is important at any age but is critical for seniors. Staying hydrated gives our bodies the necessary support to heal, manage medications, boost immune function and regain energy and mobility. Be sure to talk with your doctor about their hydration recommendations for your needs.