It’s About More Than Thirst
Dehydration is a serious health issue that is especially common among seniors. A 2019 UCLA study showed that up to 40% of adults over age 65 may have chronic dehydration. Being dehydrated means your body has lost too much water.
As we age, our bodies become less able to retain fluids. To put it simply, most of us urinate more as we get older. This makes seniors more likely to get dehydrated, but this can be easily prevented.
6 Reasons Staying Hydrated Is Important for Seniors
- Better body functions – Water helps regulate body temperature, aids in digestion, and helps bring nutrients to cells.
- Kidney health – Dehydration can cause the kidneys to work harder. This can lead to kidney stones, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and even pneumonia.
- Heart health – Dehydration can increase heart rate and decrease blood pressure, which can cause dizziness and fainting.
- Better digestion – Staying hydrated can prevent constipation and stomach ulcers.
- Clearer thinking – Dehydration can cause confusion, memory loss, and other issues.
- Fall prevention – Staying hydrated helps prevent many conditions that can lead to falling down.
Hydration for Fall Prevention
Falls are something all seniors want to avoid. They can lead to injury and loss of independence. Being dehydrated can lead to a number of health issues that increase the risk of falls:
Dizziness – Dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure. This can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded and unsteady on your feet.
Weakness – Dehydration can cause muscle weakness. This makes it harder to stay balanced and stable on our feet.
Confusion – Dehydration can cause you to feel confused or disoriented.
Fatigue – Dehydration can cause fatigue, which can increase the risk of falls.
Stay Hydrated and Prevent Falls
Drink plenty of water. Seniors should aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. (Ask your doctor for a specific recommendation.) It’s also important to drink water before, during, and after exercise.
Keep water within reach. Keep a glass or bottle of water nearby and sip on it throughout the day.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate the body, so limit how much you have.
Eat hydrating foods. Eat foods that are high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables. Ask your doctor for a specific recommendation about how much and what to drink, as people with certain chronic diseases have to limit their water intake.
Keep an eye on your urine. Pay attention to how much you urinate. If your urine is dark yellow or amber colored, it may be a sign you need to drink more fluids.
Take medications as prescribed. Some medications can increase the risk of dehydration. Take your medications as prescribed and talk to your doctor if you experience side effects.
Wear appropriate footwear. Wear sturdy, supportive shoes that fit well to prevent falls.
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help improve balance to reduce the risk of falls.
Staying hydrated is manageable if you make it a habit. Remember to drink plenty of water each day to keep your body working at its best. It’s easy once it becomes a habit. Stay hydrated and take other steps to avoid falling—for a healthier, safer lifestyle.