As people age, a lack of water can adversely affect important body functions. The body requires water to lubricate joints and the lungs and hydrate blood and tissues. Water helps with digestion and hydrates the skin, and it can also decrease cravings for sweets, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and even minimize pain from arthritis and migraines. Here’s why not drinking enough water can be dangerous for seniors.
Negative Consequences of Not Drinking Water
If the body’s electrolyte and fluid balances are disrupted, the activity of the heart and brain can be diminished. Other effects from inadequate water intake include heavier breathing, arthritis from poor joint lubrication, muscle soreness, and higher body temperature.
Seniors typically don’t drink enough water. For one thing, they don’t get as thirsty as younger people. Because total body water content decreases with age, the ability to sense thirst also decreases. Dehydration can be especially dangerous, leading to hospitalization, disorientation, and even death.
Dehydration is just one of the many health issues older adults are susceptible to. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality at-home care. Clearwater families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
Few things are as critical as drinking a sufficient amount of water on a daily basis. We lose about 2–3 quarts of water daily and even more through perspiration during exercise or warm weather. The recommended daily amount of water for most seniors is 6 to 8 cups. In warmer weather or during exercise, the general rule is to drink 4 ounces every 15 minutes during the period of highest activity. Mere sips of water aren’t enough, particularly if a person is on dialysis or taking diuretics to treat heart failure or high blood pressure. In fact, diuretics actually promote water loss.
If a senior refuses to drink water, an alternative is Pedialyte, which provides hydration with electrolytes that restore balance to body systems. Sports drinks also work well but aren’t good for diabetics because of their sugar content. The majority of fruit juices are loaded with sugar as well, and most coffees and teas are diuretics. However, there are some healthy alternatives, including herbal teas, low-sodium soups, and fruits with high water content, such as watermelon and strawberries.
Increasing fluid intake is one of the simplest ways to lower the risk of dehydration. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elder care. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide an individualized care plan to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Symptoms of not drinking enough water include problems with staying focused, reduced appetite, difficulty with reading, and memory lapses. Severe dehydration symptoms can include little or concentrated urine, fatigue, rapid heart rate, skin that’s cold to the touch, and dry mouth. Call the doctor or go to the ER immediately if symptoms like these continue even after drinking water or other fluids.
To ensure your loved one is staying hydrated, consider hiring a professional caregiver. If your elderly loved one needs Clearwater live-in care, turn to Home Care Assistance. We offer a program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to focus on eating nutritious foods, exercising on a regular basis, maintaining strong social ties, and other lifestyle factors known to increase longevity. If you need professional at-home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (727) 330-7862.