Why is hydration important?
Dehydration is a major cause of hospitalization and death in the elderly population. It can also cause other severe health problems like kidney stones, blood clot complications, passing out, rapid but weak pulse, urinary tract infections, and lowered blood pressure. In addition, being properly hydrated is also very important for certain medications to work. Some elderly folks don’t realize they are becoming dehydrated, and it can quickly become a serious problem. Dementia can contribute to an older person forgetting to drink water regularly.
Additionally, according to the American Heart Association, individuals with certain health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cystic fibrosis may need to consume more water than typically recommended. Certain medications also act as diuretics, which means one may need to drink more in order to replace the extra fluids lost. Consult your physician on the water intake best suited for you or your loved one.
Keeping hydrated is an important concern no matter the season; however, summer is a great time to pay special attention to your own hydration or that of your senior loved one, as the warmer weather increases loss of water through sweat.
How to detect and treat dehydration
Some of the symptoms of dehydration in the elderly can be wrongly attributed to other causes besides dehydration. Be on the lookout for unusual confusion, impaired cognition, falling, and constipation. Because these symptoms can be caused by other ailments too, sometimes the dehydration goes unidentified.
Some of the most severe symptoms of dehydration include:
• Little or no urination
• Dark colored urine
• Dry skin that stays folded when pinched
• Irritability or dizziness
• Rapid breathing and heartbeat
• Cold hands and feet
Tips for keeping the elderly hydrated
• Avoid caffeine if possible, as many caffeinated beverages act as diuretics.
• Savory fluids may appeal to some seniors. Try offering chicken, beef, or vegetable broth.
• Don’t forget that fruits and vegetables also contain water and can provide hydration. Foods with a high water content include cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon.
• Smoothies, milkshakes, and sports drinks can also be appealing to some seniors.
• Encourage the elderly to drink several times throughout the day.
• Keep in mind that thirst can often be mistaken for hunger! Sugar cravings especially can signal thirst or dehydration.
Watermelon popsicle recipe
Maybe the name gives it away, but watermelon can assist in keeping yourself hydrated.
Try this simple watermelon popsicle recipe (with natural ingredients and no excess cane sugar):
• 1 small watermelon
• Liquid Stevia
• Pinch of salt (optional)
• Plastic Popsicle molds or pouches
1. Cut watermelon in half and scoop out pieces out using a cookie scoop or spoon. Place into a blender.
2. Pour some of the watermelon’s excess juice into the blender.
3. Take the liquid Stevia and drop 3-5 droplets into the blender on top of watermelon.
4. Optional: Sprinkle a little bit of salt onto mixture in blender.
5. Blend ingredients in blender.
6. After the mixture is thoroughly blended, use funnel to assist in pouring the contents of blender evenly into the plastic popsicle molds or pouches. Make sure to leave a little extra space, as contents can expand while freezing.
7. Place all of the as-yet-unfrozen popsicles into a freezer.
8. Leave in freezer until frozen solid (about two to three hours).
Infused water recipe
Naturally-flavored, infused water can add a fun summery twist to staying hydrated.
Try the following infused water recipe from Migraineagain.com:
• 8 1⁄2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon grated ginger
• 1 medium cucumber, sliced thin
• 1 medium lemon, sliced thin but not peeled
• 12 leaves spearmint
1. Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher.
2. Refrigerate overnight.
3. Strain water.
4. Drink all 8 1/2 cups during the day.
Makes 1 pitcher.