The sage who observed, “Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine,” knew what he was talking about eons ago. Modern science has confirmed that a simple way to help safeguard our health is to drink plenty of water.
Though important advice year-round, it’s vital to heed that counsel during the hot, humid days of summer, particularly for older people. Seniors are at greatest risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
At Country Meadows Retirement Communities, our dining, community life and fitness teams are aware of the need for our residents to stay well hydrated throughout the year but especially during the summer months. That’s why our staff makes cool, fresh water available throughout the campus and reminds residents to drink when engaging in outdoor or physical activity. We also provide them with fruits, vegetables and broth soups at every meal to add hydrating nutrients to their diets. In some levels of care, our staff delivers beverages to residents in their rooms every afternoon.
For active senior living, here are our “thirsty 13” facts and tips about hydration
Understand why you get thirsty and the importance of hydration:
- People lose about 10 cups of fluids a day through exhaled air, perspiration and other bodily fluids.
- The body is likely to dehydrate during travel, especially on airplanes.
- Water helps the body keep a normal temperature, and lubricates and cushions joints.
- Even a 1.5 percent water loss can result in decreased cognitive function, headaches and fatigue.
- The sensation of thirst decreases with age, so thirst can set in without a senior realizing it.
- Older persons have less water in their bodies and, therefore, need to drink plenty of water.
Take the following steps to remain well hydrated
- Try these dehydration-defying fruits and vegetables: watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, grapefruit, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and mixed salad greens.
- Drink water, fruit juices, sports drinks, milk, tea, coffee and broth. Avoid high-protein and alcoholic drinks, which can lead to dehydration.
- Sip water-based liquids through the day to help the body meet its need for ongoing hydration.
- Seniors can try this guideline for daily water intake: their body weight in pounds divided by two. The result is the number of ounces of water to drink each day.
- Drink water even before exercising or going out into the sun to maintain hydration.
- Drink a whole glass of water when taking a pill as part of meeting hydration needs.
- Be sure that persons with dementia take in enough water, as they might forget to drink.
In addition to drinking plenty of hydrating fluids, seniors should dress lightly; wear hats, sunglasses and sunscreen; limit exposure to direct sun; and use air conditioners or electric fans.
Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, too
While dehydration is a concern, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can lead to serious illness and death. Know the warning signs and precautions of both by reading our blog post, “How to keep cool amid summertime heat during senior living years.” If you observe signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in anyone, call for emergency assistance. While you wait for help to arrive, guide the person to shade and continually refresh him all over with cool water.
At Country Meadows, we regard the health and safety of our retirees all year long as our greatest responsibility. If you are choosing a retirement community or considering a move to a retirement home, we would like to talk with you about our health services and senior living options.
We hope you will visit a senior living community at any of our local retirement homes in Pennsylvania or Maryland and see our retirement apartments, either in an independent living retirement community or a personal care or assisted living home. Please contact us to schedule a visit or request information.