Hydration is how seniors replenish eliminated fluids from the body. But there are multiple ways water leaves the body throughout the day. According to well.blog.nytimes.com, there is a new way to measure this process, and it’s called the hydration index:
"The guiding principle behind the new hydration index is that some fluids last longer in your body than others, providing more hydration. After all, if you drink a cup of water and then immediately excrete half that amount in your urine, you haven’t added eight ounces to your water supply, but only four."
Drinking plenty of water is critical to senior daily wellness. Water is good for detoxification: elimination of toxins in the body. Water is good for digestion: the breakdown and passage of nutrients through the digestive tract. However, water in liquid or solid form alone is not enough for this list of 5 tips to prevent dehydration in seniors.
1. Bottoms Up
Diversify liquid consumption and slow down water elimination by adding coconut water or tomato juice. And if anyone is going to have sugar they should go for fruit juices, according to livestrong.com, like apple, prune, or grape juice. However, Pedialyte, milk and orange juice topped the list, according to the results of the hydration index study results documented at well.blog.nytimes.com. And all of these drinks are effective for hydration because they contain high amounts of potassium and electrolytes, which are excellent for replenishing nutrients throughout the body.
2. Avoid Excessive Evaporation & Elimination
Sweating is an issue in summer. Therefore, staying cool helps to maintain hydration. Use an air conditioner indoors to maintain comfortable humidity, air exchange, and cooler temperatures. Use a fan or stay in the shade when outdoors, but they will not work for long.
Senior dehydration is not only about liquid consumption. It is important to pick fluids wisely. Although caffeine and sugar frequent many beverages enjoyed during the summer months, they are not better than water for hydration. They can make the heart race and the kidneys work harder to produce more urine, to eliminate them. They are not ideal for regular hydration purposes.
3. Choose Time Wisely
Do not allow a senior’s core temperature to rise or remain elevated for any extended period of time. The outdoor shade under a tree or awning isn’t enough to prevent excessive sweating, body temperature rise, or dehydration. This just means the time of day when the sun is at its highest and the UVB rays are at their strongest, are times to avoid altogether. Therefore, for seniors concerned about their hydration, summer is safest well before 10:00 AM and well after 4:00 PM on any given day, according to the American Skin Association’s sun safety article.
4. Use a Moisturizer
The skin is the body's biggest organ, and water evaporates through it all day long. Therefore, seniors should protect their skin daily. Each application consists of a water-based product and, for some, an oil as a sealant. If a senior is prone to dry skin, he or she should maintain as mush moisture as possible on his or her skin. Finding the right moisturizer is dependent upon his or her skin type and dryness level.
5. Watch What You Eat
There are certain foods that have higher water content than others. That's why fruits and vegetables top any healthy eating lists. So include them in every meal. Also, lean fish and meats can curtail much of the water loss when consuming high fat or starchy foods. The more water a food or meal has, the better it is for senior hydration.
Signs of Dehydration
There are many signs of dehydration to look out for, even if you have implemented the steps above.
Mild Dehydration Symptoms
- Dry mouth or thirst
- Dry, cracked lips
- Skin that is dryer than usual
- Decreased urinary output, or dark, smelly urine
- Quick pulse
- Sunken eyes
- Lack of urination for eight hours
- Change in behavior
Note that seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia have decreased senses of thirst, which could cause them to become dehydrated more quickly. Dehydration symptoms could be aggravated by or confused with dementia, making it even harder to tell how your senior is doing. Pay close attention to your loved one for any signs of dehydration.
At Caring Senior Service we are always ready to help seniors and their families by providing professional advice and services. As you consider ways to give support to your aging parents or relatives, consider including us in your plans. Contact our care team today!