Why is hydration so important?
The answer is simple: the body is made mostly of water. And all its systems — from the cardiovascular system to the lymphatic system — need adequate fluids to function. For seniors, increasing water intake and staying hydrated can reduce common risks that they’re more prone to, including but not limited to high blood pressure, blood clots and even organ failure.
Because water is essential to every cell and makes up 60 percent of your body, if someone is thirsty, they’re already dehydrated.
Why are seniors at risk for dehydration?
Seniors are particularly at risk for dehydration because as we age, the body starts to lose its ability to conserve water, and our sense of thirst also starts to diminish. For many seniors, by the time they feel thirsty, their essential fluids are already critically low.
Medication: According to a 2009 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 89% of Americans aged 65 or older and 75% aged 50 to 64 are on prescription medication.
Medication typically taken by seniors, such as laxatives, antihistamines, antipsychotics, diuretics, and corticosteroids can exacerbate electrolytes and fluid loss. When taking these medications, individuals need to drink MORE than the average daily requirement, which can be a challenge for those with certain health issues.
Dementia: Seniors with dementia may forget to perform basic human needs such as eating a healthy diet or drinking enough fluids. In more advanced stages, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) offers another challenge to staying hydrated.
Incontinence: Frequent incontinence can also affect seniors’ hydration, as people who suffer from the issue often purposely limit their fluid intake to avoid accidents. Nearly a quarter of men and women aged 60 to 79 years experience moderate to severe incontinence, so it’s crucial to address the issue either with your doctor or a loved one to prevent further problems from subsequent dehydration.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
It is imperative for both seniors and their caregivers to know the signs and symptoms of dehydration.
Early signs mean it’s time to up the fluids, while signs of severe dehydration may warrant professional medical intervention. Remember that thirst is not necessarily always the first sign of dehydration.
Early symptoms of dehydration in seniors include:
- Extreme thirst
- Not urinating frequently
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth
- Headache from dehydration
One of the best ways to check for dehydration is by looking at urine color. If you’re properly hydrated, your urine will be light yellow or clear in color. Most doctors agree to aim for a hay or straw-like color as a sign that your body has received enough fluid intake.
If you or your loved one has dark-colored urine, it’s time to increase fluid intake immediately. On the flip side, if you notice symptoms of serious dehydration, it’s probably time to call the doctor.
Signs of severe dehydration in seniors include:
- Severe confusion
- Diarrhea or vomiting for 24+ hours
- Black/bloody stool
- Problems Caused by Dehydration
Getting enough fluids is an important key to living a healthy, balanced life. Not hydrating enough can have moderate to severe consequences, and in the elderly, it’s even more important to stay on top of the hydration game.
Mild dehydration in seniors can negatively impact cognitive functioning like concentration and memory. Increased fatigue and hospitalization rates are also experienced by seniors who don’t receive proper fluid intake.
Common problems caused by dehydration in the golden years include:
- Low blood pressure
- Skin conditions
- Urinary tract and kidney problems
To keep yourself or your loved one on the right track to health and vitality, you’ll want to prevent dehydration whenever possible. Luckily, it’s an easy feat!
How to Prevent Dehydration
Most adults require a daily intake of around 64 ounces of fluids, but that’s not a hard and fast number. Anyone who performs strenuous exercise or lives in a warmer climate should increase that amount. Seniors may need extra fluids based on their activity, medications and particular health conditions.
A good rule of thumb to follow in terms of hydration is that the intake and output should balance. If a loved one is suffering from diarrhea, fever, and vomiting, their fluid intake should be monitored even more closely. The same goes if they are active on the golf course, tennis court, or simply walking around the community.
The Best Hydrating Drink for Seniors
Making a conscious effort to drink more or to monitor the hydration of the beloved senior in your life is easy!
While water is one of the best choices, other nutritious drinks like low-sugar juices can be just as effective. There are many delicious fluids and foods that can count towards keeping the body’s fluid at an adequate level.
Our Pick: LifeFuels
One easy solution that ups the ante with superfoods and vitamins is a genius product we love called the LifeFuels bottle. It’s a really easy way to get your hydration on with fluids that are actually good for you and taste great, without the added sugar and synthetic flavors of sports drinks and soda.
How it works
The 16.9-oz LifeFuels bottle, operated by a single button, turns ordinary water into a beverage packed with flavor, essential vitamins, and nutrients. It’s perfect for all ages to stay hydrated — but it’s especially awesome for the elderly.
Why? It’s ridiculously convenient and tastes delicious.
Each FuelPod makes up to 30 beverages, and comes in a variety of great flavors, sweetened and unsweetened, without artificial ingredients. So whether you like citrus flavors such as Lemon Lime or Tangerine Orange, or summery flavors like Strawberry Lemonade or Peach, LifeFuels has a FuelPod for you.
Perhaps the best part, though, is the functional ingredients — electrolytes, vitamins, and superfoods — packed in every single serving. FuelPods can be mixed in multiple ways to provide an even more personalized flavor and nutrient-packed beverage via the LifeFuels app.
With the easy-to-use LifeFuels bottle and FuelPods, you don’t have to run to the store over and over again for new flavors. Each pod releases multiple servings, so it’s super convenient and eco-conscious.
Say goodbye to sugary sports drinks and sodas forever. This is a product that not only hydrates but also provides beneficial ingredients like turmeric and apple cider vinegar to take your nutrition to the next level. And we love that it’s a huge win for the environment, too.
Communication is key to hydration.
Water is necessary for nearly every bodily function, from regulating body temperature to lubricating joints and pumping blood to the muscles. So not staying adequately hydrated can have serious health consequences.
Sometimes, it can be hard for seniors to stay on top of their hydration.
That’s another reason we love the LifeFuels product —
The LifeFuels app connects with your bottle and easily tracks fluid and nutrient intake. This information can be shared with your family member’s doctor or caregiver to show how much fluid they are taking in daily.
If you or a loved one has a health condition that makes hydration a particular challenge, LifeFuels is your solution. — and with LifeFuels’ new subscription service, your loved one will never run out of their favorite FuelPod flavors.