Posted by Nicholas Tobin 48 Days Ago
Why hydration is so important for older people
As we age, it can be more difficult to stay hydrated, as our bodies retain less water, and the signs of dehydration are also often milder, meaning we may not feel thirsty until we are significantly dehydrated. Combined with the benefits of drinking the recommended amount of water each day, hydration is a key part of elderly care.
Boost physical and mental health
Several studies have shown that those who drink more water have healthier minds, which is especially important as we get older, as cognitive abilities can often slow down as we age. Even mild dehydration can impact the brain's ability to function to its full potential.
There's also a physical benefit, with research revealing that exercise is much easier for those who are well-hydrated. Drinking enough water can improve our endurance levels, lower the heart rate and speed up the recovery process of physical activity.
Perk up your mood
It has been proven that those who drink more water tend to report better moods than those who don't, meaning staying hydrated could be an important element of maintaining your overall wellbeing in later life.
As we get older, and our activity levels and appetite decreases, we are at more risk of getting sick. Whether this is from a short-term illness such as a UTI or something more chronic like diabetes. Ensuring that we are getting enough fluids each day can have a positive impact on our ability to fight off illnesses.
Of course, it's important to be aware of what we and our elderly loved ones drink, as not all fluids have the same health benefits. Alcohol, for example isn't an effective way to rehydrate, while fruit juices often contain high levels of sugar and acidity, meaning they shouldn't be the main fluid to intake during the day.
When it comes to taking care of our elderly loved ones, it can often be difficult to encourage them to drink enough. However, there are ways you can increase the chance of them getting the right amount of fluids each day without causing them any additional stress.
The Importance of staying hydrated for seniors and elders
Because more than sixty percent of the human body is made up of water, staying hydrated is important to keep our bodies functioning properly. As adults, we lose more than eighty ounces of water daily just through normal activity. Elderly adults are among the most at risk groups for dehydration, one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization after age 65. Because of the potentially serious consequences of this condition to seniors, as a caregiver it’s important to recognize the causes and symptoms of dehydration as well as how you can help your loved one stay properly hydrated.
As a natural part of the aging process, our bodies undergo physiological changes that increase our risk of becoming dehydrated. With advancing years, seniors can lose their sense of thirst and tend not to drink enough. Age slows down our metabolic rate and we need fewer calories. We are not generally as physically active as we once were, either. Our appetites decrease, we eat less food and as a result get less fluids from solid food sources, too, problematic for the elderly since almost everyone gets about half their daily water requirement from solid foods and fruit and vegetable juices.
In addition, our fluid balance can be affected by medication, emotional stress, exercise, general health, and the weather. Many seniors have chronic health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and may take medications that can make them more susceptible to dehydration. Our aging bodies also lose some natural ability to regulate temperature making seniors more susceptible to temperature changes in the environment. One such change is that the subcutaneous layer of fat beneath the skin, which acts as a natural insulation to heat and cold, dwindles. Also because seniors perspire less, it’s harder for them to keep cool which also increases their risk of becoming overheated. The two most serious conditions for seniors that result from heat and exposure to high temperatures are heat exhaustion and heat stroke, both which primarily result from dehydration.
Dehydration is caused by loss of salts and water in our bodies due to severe sweating, extreme heat, vomiting, diarrhoea and certain medications. Severe dehydration can become life threatening to the elderly because there is no longer enough fluid in the body to carry blood to the organs. Signs and symptoms of dehydration, like those of many other treatable health conditions, can be virtually identical to senile dementia symptoms, and Alzheimer’s symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms of dehydration include persistent fatigue, lethargy, muscle weakness or cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea, forgetfulness, confusion, deep rapid breathing, or an increased heart rate.
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