Drinking enough water daily is essential at any age. However, most people do not reach the recommended amount of water for their daily intake, especially older adults. According to WebMD, water is essential for life, and to keep your organs and body healthy. Staying hydrated has many potential benefits as well, both for seniors and anyone trying to stay healthy as they age. In the past, physicians would tell their patients that drinking eight- 8 oz. of water a day is the right amount of water intake. However, this is not exactly true. The appropriate amount of water intake can also depend on a person’s weight. For example, some believe in the half your weight rule. In this case, a 180 lb. individual should be drinking about 90 oz. of water per day, which is half their weight. In addition, the average senior adult needs about 7 hours of sleep each night, which means they are awake for 17 hours of the day. As a result, the 180 lb. senior will need to drink about 11 oz. of water, every hour and half that their awake. So, the old general rule of 8-8z. of water, which is 64 ounces, is not entirely accurate. Another water intake method is the “one cup per 20 pounds” rule. For this method, a 140-pound person should drink about 7 cups or 56oz. of water per day. The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t really matter which method you choose, just as long as you are getting enough water to replenish your body each day.
If seniors do not receive enough hydration throughout the day, they can develop signs of dangerous dehydration. According to the site, these may include:
- Dark yellow urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Urinating fewer than four times a day
- Dry mouth, lips, eyes, or skin
- Low blood pressure
Below is an example of the “half your weight” method, for water intake.
Daily Water Intake Chart by Weight
|Pounds||Ounces of Water per Day||Number of Cups Daily|
Are Seniors at higher risk of Dehydration?
Absolutely! Seniors tend to lose water content in their bodies during the aging process. For example, the amount of water in the body can decrease by 20% by the age of 80. This loss can affect kidney function and cause more health implications as they age. Older adults who are not drinking enough water may develop chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and dementia. Seniors with mobility issues may lessen their water intake, in hopes to avoid running to the bathroom so much. However, this prevents them from getting enough water to fuel their body.
Other Reasons Why Seniors need to Drink Water
On an average day, our bodies will lose approximately two to three quarts of water. This could be a big concern for those of the older population. To restore and maintain proper functioning, we need to drink the same, if not more, to optimize the right water consumption throughout each day. Most nutritionists believe drinking a glass of water the moment you awake is a great start for your day. This will help flush out the waste in the kidneys from the night before and help make them function better. Also, having a glass of water at each meal will help with digestion. Another time to drink water is after a workout or intense exercise, which can help replenish lost water through sweat. Some find it hard to remember to drink water throughout the day, especially for seniors. However, there is an easy way to help introduce more water for your body by replacing one drink of coffee or tea per day. Then slowly replace two drinks, then three drinks, etc. Before you realize it, you will meet your appropriate goal.
Dehydration Problems Among the Elderly
As we age, some of our organs do not function as well as they used to. When it comes to dehydration, we are talking about our kidneys. For certain seniors or older adults this can be a major problem. This is one reason why many elderly have more frequent stops to the bathroom, which results in less fluid retention. In addition, seniors are more likely to be taking medications. Some medications, like diuretics, laxatives, or even chemotherapy drugs can be the main cause of increased dehydration. According to an AARP study, about 75% of individuals over 50, take prescription drugs. Those over 65, the percentage is even higher. Hence, the danger of dehydration proves to be a threat that cannot be ignored. In fact, some health implications of dehydration are common in seniors and older adults taking prescription drugs.
Are there any Consequences of severe Dehydration?
When not getting enough water at any age, this can cause huge health risks. For seniors, experiencing these risks can not only be life-threatening, but it can provoke existing chronic conditions to flare up at times. Here is a list of the most common consequences (physical and mental) of severe dehydration in the elderly.
- Blood clot complications
- Dark-colored urine
- Heat stroke
- Impaired memory or confusion
- Kidney stones
- Lowered blood volume shock
- Seizures due to an in-balanced electrolytes
- Urinary tract infections
The Importance of Clean Water
We all know by now that drinking out of the tap is not healthy and can be damaging to your health. However, those who grew up before the 70’s didn’t realize what could be floating in their faucet water. The CDC and the EPA both recommend adding a water filter to your kitchen or bathroom sink to help seniors not only drink healthy and clean water but use clean water for cooking and good hygiene. The SDWA (Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974), through the EPA, protects the quality of drinking water in the U.S. There is now water standards and regulations in place, to keep you safe from any waterborne illnesses or disease-causing germs and chemicals from entering your water in your home. Although, it is still recommended to get your own water filter system and change it out every three months.
An Easy Way to Stay Hydrated and Increase your Fluid Intake
Some people find it difficult to just open a bottled water and start drinking it. This is especially true when it comes to the elderly. One reason is that water has no taste. Many seniors know that drinking water is essential to their health and wellbeing, yet do not have the desire to drink water. Sometimes they feel that they’re fine and may not realize their body is dehydrated. So, how do we get out parents to drink more water? Here are some best ways to increase their fluid intake. Instead of plain water, suggest adding fruit into the bottle or glass. Many seniors may prefer to add some lemons, limes, or any type of fruit to help with getting enough water during the day. Sugar-free flavor enhancers can also help seniors with drinking the right amount of water intake that they daily need. Keeping water on hand, whether in a pitcher in the fridge or next to your computer while working can also help you stay hydrated.
More ways to hydrate
Seniors can also get the recommended amount of water in their diet by eating high water content fruits and veggies. Examples of these include zucchini, cucumbers, cantaloupes, and watermelon, which is over 90% water itself. For a list of high-water content foods, check this out! Another great option for seniors is to eat All-Natural frozen Fruit bars or sticks, straight from the frozen section at the grocery store. Most brands are fat free, gluten free, have no added sugar, and the only ingredient is fruit! Eating frozen fruit bars can help increase their daily water intake, while still enjoying a healthy snack. Plus, there is a variety of flavors to choose from.
I’m sure there are many other ways to increase water intake on a daily basis. For those who enjoy a bowl of hot soup, then this also can help with getting enough water for your daily goal. Soups are not only rich in fiber, but they can also help seniors retain the water lost throughout the day and night. Fruit smoothies are also another great choice for water retention.
Bottom Line to Good Hydration
No matter which method seniors choose to stay hydrated, the main goal for them is to keep drinking and eating healthy foods that increase water hydration throughout the body. There is no doubt that we may lose many of our abilities to stay and keep active in our later years. Drinking enough water is critical for not only seniors, but anyone over 50. Since water is essential to our health, keeping a strong, hydrated body is a priority for all seniors and the aging population.