10 hydration tips for seniors
As we get older, our body’s ability to feel thirsty and conserve water slowly diminishes. This means the risk of dehydration increases and can lead to hospitalisation or even more serious health risks.
Dehydration in seniors is often due to inadequate water intake, but can be caused by many other factors such as excessive sweating, loss of blood, diarrhoea, diseases such as diabetes, as well as the side effect of some medications.
It’s important for older adults and their loved ones to make an effort to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated to stay healthy and well.
Did you know?
- According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian only drinks 1.29L of water per day, which is well below the recommended 2.5L (for males) and 2L (for women).
- It only takes a 2% loss of total water for your body to start feeling thirsty. Once you’re at this point, your body is already in a state of dehydration.
- Caffeinated drinks and alcohol can dehydrate you.
- Dry mouth, high heartrate, headaches and dizziness can be physical signs of dehydration.
- If you’re only mildly dehydrated, you’re 114% more likely to make an error, which is similar to drinking low levels of alcohol.
Here are 10 tips for staying hydrated:
1. Eat foods with naturally high water content
Many foods such as cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, grapes, and oranges have high water content and can help you stay hydrated throughout the day.
2. Set hydration reminders
Many people use their smartphones to set reminders or alarms – this could be a good way to remind you to drink on a regular basis throughout the day. You could also introduce drinking water as part of your daily routine. For example, you could drink a small glass of water first thing in the morning every day, before hopping in the shower, or with every meal. The more you can make drinking water a routine, the easier it will be to avoid dehydration
3. Be mindful of conditions that may increase the risk of dehydration
For example, you may be working in the garden on a hot summer day. In this instance, you may be sweating more than usual and therefore more water intake is required.
4. Consider alternative beverages and fluid sources
If drinking plain water doesn’t appeal to you, look for other options to stay hydrated. For example, water infused with fruit of a flavour enhancer can make drinking water more appealing. Warm soups and broths can also be a nutritious way to take in more liquids. Ice blocks are another great alternative – especially on a warm summer’s day.
5. Always carry a water bottle with you
Carrying a water bottle isn’t always convenient, but it serves as a reminder to stay hydrated and provides constant access to water. If you prefer drinking chilled water, you could invest in a stainless steel, insulated water bottle which can keep your water cool for up to 24 hours. This is a great way to take chilled water with you when you’re on the go.
6. Wear protective clothing when out in the sun
This includes wearing a hat that shields the face, and loose breathable clothing. This will help keep your body temperature lower and reduce your risk of dehydration.
7. Drink plenty of water when you exercise
When you exercise, your body sweats as it tries to return to its optimal temperature. However in doing so, you also lose body fluid. It’s therefore important you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to replace the fluids you lose when you sweat.
8. Limit alcohol consumption on hot days
Another way to minimise your risk of dehydration is to limit your alcohol consumption – especially on hot days. Much like caffeine, alcohol interferes with the mechanisms that regulates the water levels in your body. It removes fluids from you blood through your renal system, which includes the kidneys, ureters and bladder at a much quicker rate than other liquids, leaving us dehydrated.
9. Incorporate vegetables into your diet
Veggies such as squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers all provide small amounts of water, especially if you steam them. Ice burg lettuce is also great because it has a high water content, and is a great addition to your meals and salads.
10. Monitor your indoor environment
Close your blinds or windows to reduce the indoor heat, and make sure the air conditioning or fans are working well. Sitting inside a hot, stuffy house can increase your risk of dehydration, so make sure you space is cool and well-ventilated.