Tis the season to remain hydrated
Let’s face it, it’s much easier to stay hydrated in the summer months.
In the fall and winter, it is more difficult to drink the amount of water our bodies need to function properly. We are not perspiring as we do in warmer temperatures and unless we are used to drinking at least the prescribed eight glasses of water daily, it is easy to forget how important water consumption really is.
Seniors are particularly susceptible to dehydration. They have less body mass, they eat less and some are less active than others.
As well, some prescription medications are diuretic by nature, and as a result elderly seniors tend to consume fewer liquids.
Also, elderly seniors with early onset dementia forget that they should be drinking water and therefore are not getting adequate hydration. Other seniors who experience bladder control issues will avoid drinking fluids to prevent embarrassing accidents, sometimes complicating an issue that is easily avoided by just having adequate hydration. A few signs of dehydration may be:
n Confusion, irritability, complaining of dizziness or headaches
n Decreased urine output; going to the bathroom fewer than five times per day.
n Dry skin; when you pinch your skin it should have good elasticity or turgor. Pull up the skin on the back of the hand for a few seconds. If it does not return to normal within a few seconds, the person is dehydrated.
n Dizziness, decreased blood pressure and difficulty with walking, which could result in falls.
What are some of the ways to increase your fluid intake on a daily basis?
n Water is always the best. Upon rising in the morning drink a large glass of water, and have a large glass of water with every meal.
n Incorporate good quality fruit and vegetable juices into your diet as part of your intake.
n Fruits such as melon, berries, and cherries are a good source of water.
n Have clear broths and eat soups to add to your fluid intake.
n Eat Jell-O as a dessert.
n Drink herbal teas and limit the amount of caffeinated beverages consumed including sodas, coffee and regular teas as they are dehydrating.
If you are a primary caregiver for an elderly senior or loved one, take the initiative to encourage and offer ample liquids on a daily basis. Offer juices and water whenever the possibility arises and encourage elderly seniors to sip a glass of water throughout the day by leaving it within arm’s reach for them if they have mobility issues.
Tastes change as we age and often a juice that was once preferred does not taste the same, so variety is important.
Watch for signs of dehydration in elderly seniors and if you are not sure, it is always wise to contact your medical care provider. As with most illnesses, prevention is the key.
Making sure your loved one stays hydrated now is much easier than treating him or her for dehydration later. Realizing how important adequate hydration is, can be often overlooked by many of us, so let’s all make an effort to increase our water intake consciously.
—Elizabeth Shewchuk is founder of Daughter for A Day, a North Shore company that provides home care assistance and support for elderly seniors.