The Importance of Hydration as the Weather Gets Warmer

Familiarize yourself with the importance of hydration for senior adults.

Summer is coming and the hottest temps of the year are on their way, so it is time to stop and consider the importance of hydration for seniors. Whether you are a senior adult or have a loved one who is elderly, knowing the facts about hydration and the risks of dehydration can prevent dangerous scenarios that can put a senior’s life at risk.

Why Dehydration Is Such a Risk to Senior Adults

As an adult gets older, the body’s water content naturally decreases. Because there are lower levels of fluids in the body, the chance for electrolyte imbalances increases. Plus, most older adults experience a diminished sense of thirst, and by the time they feel thirsty they may already be in a state of dehydration.

In addition to these issues that are common to the elderly, there are other factors contributing to fluid loss. For example, certain health conditions and medication can create water loss or prevent the senior from retaining fluids. An older adult with dementia may forget to have proper meals and drinks throughout the day and may even struggle with swallowing.

Because hot temperatures of summer naturally have a dehydrating effect on the body, it’s easy to see how the combination of age and summer can mean a senior adult will become dehydrated quickly, leading to dire consequences—even risk of death.

In fact, studies show that dehydration is related to increased rates in mortality among older adults who are hospitalized and is often the cause for emergency hospitalizations. Dehydration is among the top ten of most frequently diagnosed conditions for elderly hospitalization in the U.S. Other conditions related to dehydration for the elderly include:

  • Impaired cognition
  • Confusion
  • Falling
  • Constipation

Often, what seems to be a health condition is truly just simply dehydration.

The Importance of Hydration Can’t Be Understated

Once you understand the risks associated with dehydration, the importance of hydration becomes clear. As you plan for outdoor activities like family picnics, trips to the beach, or even just a shopping trip, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for ways to get plenty of fluids for yourself or to ensure the senior in your life stays hydrated.

By keeping the fluid levels higher, you are more likely to prevent episodes of dehydration. Here are some tips for preventing dehydration in senior adults:

  • Drink at least 64 fluid ounces of caffeine-free liquid each day on a typical day; increase this amount if the heat and humidity are especially high.
  • Try to balance fluid consumption with fluid output. When a senior adult is sweating a lot or frequently urinating, increase fluid intake to make up for it.
  • Drink electrolyte water when possible to replenish the body’s stores.
  • If the senior adult doesn’t like to drink water, consider other fluid-rich food and drink, such as broths, water enhancers, half-juice-half-water, popsicles and smoothies.
  • Consider increasing the senior adult’s intake of hydrating foods, such as raw vegetables and fruit; watermelon is particularly high in water content.
  • When suffering from illness, such as a fever or gastrointestinal distress that leads to vomiting or diarrhea, increasing fluids is important; a hospital visit and IV fluids may be necessary; always consult with a doctor if you are unsure.

Celestial Care Is Here for Senior Adults and Their Families

Whether you need more advice about hydration as summertime nears, or you would like to learn more about our skilled in-home nursing services, our team of senior care experts is here to help. Connect with us online now or call 602.375.8880 to learn more about the importance of hydration for senior adults and other tips, or to schedule a consultation for services.