We all need fluids to help ensure healthy organ and joint function and to prevent the complications of dehydration. For older adults, ample hydration is especially vital.
As we age, our body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller, our ability to conserve water is reduced, and we are less apt to sense when we’re thirsty (which signals that we’re dehydrated). These health challenges are compounded by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia, and by using certain medications. And older adults may have mobility challenges that limit their ability to get water for themselves. At Country Home Assisted Living in Elbert County, Colo. (Parker), we pay close attention to our residents’ individual hydration levels.
Dehydration can lead to too-low blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat, and a reduced flow of oxygenated blood to vital organs and extremities.
Signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness and confusion. That’s why it’s vitally important to stay hydrated.
The only treatment for dehydration is to replace the fluids that have been lost. Water, of course, is usually the number one choice. But for some, water might seem “boring.” There are other options, but some might come with risks, depending on one’s health status. Here at Country Home Assisted Living, we ensure that our residents have options for staying hydrated safely:
- Low-fat milk—A good source of hydration in that it stays in the system longer than water. It also contains calcium, vitamins A & D, and protein. But it may not be the best option for people with high blood pressure or heart disease.
- Fruit juice—All-fruit juices (100 % fruit juice) are often high in vitamin C and may have other healthful antioxidant compounds. However, their high sugar content may not be appropriate for people with diabetes.
- Flavored water—Flavors improve the taste of water, of course, and there are lots of varieties–sparkling or regular. The potential downside: Many may contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, so plain varieties are best. Flavored waters can be made with lime, lemon, orange, mint, or raspberries.
- Coffee, tea, or iced tea—These are popular and inexpensive, but regular varieties contain caffeine, which acts as a diuretic. Aim for decaf varieties instead.
Sources: The Mayo Clinic; Erikson Living Tribune