Safe & Pure Water is Vital for Senior Health
Senior Water Needs
Dehydration in seniors is easy to prevent. You should drink five to eight glasses of pure water daily and include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. The total water weight for an adult between the ages of 61 and 74 is on average 43 percent for a woman, and 51 percent for a man. To maintain good health it is important to drink good quality water, even when you are not thirsty, to prevent dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when a person loses more water than they take in. The body needs an adequate amount of fluid to function properly; for example, to regulate body temperature through sweating, to maintain blood pressure and to eliminate bodily waste.
Research shows that 48 percent of seniors admitted to hospitals from emergency departments had laboratory values indicative of dehydration. Dehydration is one of the ten most frequent admitting diagnoses for Medicare hospitalizations, according to the Health Care Financing Administration. Dehydration can be life-threatening if severe enough.
Causes for Senior Dehydration:
- A person’s sense of thirst becomes less acute as they age.
- High blood pressure and anti-depressant medications are diuretic.
- Some medicines may cause patients to sweat more.
- Frail seniors have a harder time getting up to get a drink when they are thirsty, or they rely on caregivers who cannot sense that they need fluids.
- As we age our bodies lose kidney function and are less able to conserve fluid (this is progressive from around the age of 50, but becomes more acute and noticeable over the age of 70).
- Illnesses, especially those that cause vomiting and/or diarrhea and excessive urination.
- Diabetes and hypercalcemia.
- Excessive sweating.
- Blood loss.
Even mild dehydration can affect a person’s health increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. Age related changes make older adults more vulnerable, especially if they already have cardiac or renal problems. Severe dehydration puts a greater strain on the heart. Think of a pump trying to pump with less fluid.
If severe enough, dehydration can lead to urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bedsores in bed-ridden patients, or even death. In general, a human can survive for only about four days without any fluids.
Signs of Dehydration:
- Muscle weakness
- Problems with walking or falling
- Sunken eyes
- Dizziness and headaches
- Weight loss
- Dry skin
- Poor skin elasticity (pull up the skin on the back of the hand for a few seconds; if it does not return to normal within a few seconds, the person is dehydrated)
- Dry or sticky mouth and tongue
- Inability to sweat or produce tears
- Less urine output
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Blood pressure drops when changing from lying to standing
- Increased infections
Although water is extremely important in preventing dehydration, it does not contain electrolytes. To maintain electrolyte levels, you could have broth or soups (made with high quality water) which contain sodium and vegetable juices or, soft fruits or vegetables, which contain potassium. Sports drinks, like Gatorade, can help restore electrolytes.
As with most illnesses, prevention is the key. Making sure you stay hydrated now is much easier than being treated for dehydration later.
Important factors when increasing your water intake are:
- Ensure you are drinking the highest quality water available.
- Do not drink water that has contaminants such as chlorine in it.
- Rehydrate using Best Water!
We will gladly help you evaluate options to improve the quality of your water within your budget!