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Preventing Dehydration in Older Adults

Dana Larsen over at The Senior Living Blog gave us some great tips about preventing dehydration in older adults.  Her post titled “4 Ways to Prevent Elderly Dehydration” included some great tips on staying hydrated, and provided a few yummy recipes for what she calls “Summer Mocktails”.

Senior dehydration is a common health issue that can lead to bigger problems if proper hydration is not made a priority, such as urinary tract infections and low blood pressure. – Dana Larsen/Senior Living Blog

What causes dehydration in older adults?

Here are some of the reasons Dana believes dehydration is so prevalent among older adults:

  • The ability to notice changes in body temperature typically decreases with age.
  • As people get older, body water content decreases.
  • Many medications the elderly take make them more susceptible to dehydration.
  • The elderly often experience diminished thirst; which leads to reduced fluid consumption.
  • With aging, the kidneys have a reduced ability to concentrate urine and retain water during water deprivation.
  • Specific conditions, such as reduced swallowing capacity, decreased mobility, comprehension and communication disorders, as well as, decreased mobility and/or incontinence can contribute to dehydration.
  • Many seniors have underlying health conditions that make them less able to adapt to heat.

Hydration and your Health

RELATED: HOW MUCH WATER DO I NEED TO DRINK PER DAY?

The Hydration for Health Initiative (H4H) is a think tank of professionals that believe in raising public awareness of healthy hydration.  H4H believes there are many health benefits to staying hydrated and ensuring that we receive optimal amounts of fluids daily.  Some of those benefits include:

  • Proper hydration may have a positive impact on cognitive functions and mood. “Several studies, performed in healthy persons, looked at the effects of induced dehydration on cognitive performance and motor function: fatigue, mood, choice reaction time, short- and long-term memory, attention, arithmetics… It appears that a 2% dehydration is sufficient to impair functions and performances.” 
  • Proper hydration can prevent the recurrence of kidney stones.  “The role of increased fluid intake as a means of preventing the recurrence of kidney stones is well recognized today. In fact, it has been used since the time of Hippocrates.”
  • Proper hydration can contribute to maintaining healthy body weight.  “There is increasing evidence that the types of fluids we drink can have a long-term impact on health, influencing the development of overweight, obesity or metabolic diseases.”  H4H advocates maintain that the best method for preventing dehydration in older adults is to drink water (as opposed to surgery/flavored drinks).

Wondering what a “summer mocktail” is?  Well, Dana Larsen says these are yummy beverages that we can all make that are devoid of caffeine or alcohol.  Visit her post for some awesome summer recipes!

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7 Comments

  1. Kinda a useless article. How do you define dehydrated? The ability to notice body temp changes…what does that mean and what does it have to do with hydration? Lots more questions than answers in this article. No mention of the danger of over hydration and washing out important minerals, which are critical as you age.
  2. Like the article but unless 8- 8oz of a day is the standard for for an elderly person I’m still look for the answer. I has I 95 year old mother and just went though the uti and dehydration situation . I would like to know if there a guide line for amount we needs to make sure she drinks.
    1. Mr Brown, As each patient’s heath is different ie; kidney function, heart health,etc, the most prudent thing to do would be to ask your mother’s personal physician what he or she deems would be the optimum daily fluid intake for her. As a homecare nurse I have also seen the other side of the coin where good intentions of trying to keep a loved one hydrated (a good thing!) became a negative medical situaton when they patient drank so much they had fluid overload which was not good for their congested heart failure. It should be the right balance for each patient.
  3. After two visits to the doctor and then going to emergency via ambulance for vertigo I found this information on the internet. Despite the warning of dehydration and to drink more water it never was explained to me the effect of dehydration and the heart. Thanks to the internet I learned of the connection and the necessity to drink, drink, drink. In addition this article inspired me One recommendation confused me – drink plain water but yet the site directs one to flavored drinks. Did I mis-understand this information?
  4. We also recently published a blog post on dehydration from the perspective of brain health: http://nanasbuzz.com/2015/07/18/mind-your-brain-health-dehydration/. It’s such a relatively easy cost-effective “treatment” to drink water. Thanks for the introduction to the H4H initiative.
  5. Excellent information. Yet there is one important omission–the necessity of elders swallowing enough water when taking medications. It’s alluded to after 2+ minutes of the YouTube–“water is a solvent for vitamins, minerals….)” but no specific mention.

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