Summer provides older adults more opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities. This is especially appealing to seniors who live in colder climates and who have been stuck indoors for several months. Before you or a senior loved one head outdoors, however, it’s important to learn more about dehydration and why older adults are at increased risk for it.
Dehydration and Seniors
Seniors are prone to dehydration for many reasons. One leading factor is age-related changes that weaken an older adult’s sense that they are thirsty. An aging body also has more difficulty adjusting to fluctuating temperatures. The heat and humidity common in summer months add to these threats.
When the body becomes too hot, it begins to sweat. This causes a loss of fluid. High humidity prevents sweat from evaporating and cooling the body. The result is an increased need for fluids. If fluids aren’t adequately replaced, it can result in serious health problems and possibly even death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults of all ages consume 48–64 ounces of liquid every day. This total includes fruit and vegetable juices, soups, and milk. While sodas, coffee, and tea do count as fluids, health professionals don’t recommend them. That’s because of the caffeine. It can have a diuretic effect that leads to greater fluid loss.
Stay Hydrated with These Tips
Here are some suggestions for keeping a senior loved one hydrated this summer and all year long:
- Drink a glass of water, juice, or milk with every meal.
- Encourage the senior to drink a full glass of water each time they take a medication or vitamin.
- Urge the older adult to take hydration breaks throughout the day. If they have memory loss, call them or set an alarm on their phone to remind them it’s time to drink.
- Provide the senior with reusable bottles they can fill with water every morning. It helps them track how much water they drink each day.
- Make water more appealing by adding lemon, lime, or berries to it. Colorful, reusable straws might encourage the senior to drink more water, too.
- Drinking fluids isn’t the only way for a senior to stay hydrated. Some foods have a high-water content. Berries, lettuce, tomatoes, melon, cucumber, celery, bell peppers, and oranges are just a few to consider. Encourage your senior loved one to make these foods a part of their diet.
Reducing fluid loss caused by perspiration also helps a senior prevent dehydration. A few tips for doing so include:
- Wearing clothing made of lightweight, breathable fabrics. This allows air to circulate so the senior stays cool.
- Avoiding the outdoors when the sun is at its peak, typically between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Encouraging the older adult to stay indoors on hot days and to use their air-conditioning. It they don’t have air conditioning, create a list of cool places they can go when it’s warm, such as the local mall, coffee shop, senior center, or bookstore.
These tips can help you and your older family member stay safely hydrated even during the dog days of summer.
Lifestyle360 at Five Star Senior Living
Five Star communities take a holistic approach to resident wellness. From healthy meals to a wide range of activities and events designed to engage the body, mind, and spirit, our Lifestyle360 program makes it easier for residents to live their best lives.