A Sip is Not Enough: Not Drinking Water can be Dangerous to Seniors

By Mark Brownstein, 3:58 pm on

Elderly Care

So Many Benefits to Drinking Water

As people age, the lack of water can adversely affect important body functions.  The body requires water to lubricate joints and the lungs, and to hydrate blood and tissues. Water helps with digestion and hydrates the skin.  Water can help decrease the urge for sweets, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and even minimize pain with arthritis and migraines in addition to helping with digestion.

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 do not drink enough water.  For one thing, they aren’t as thirsty as younger people.  Because there is a decrease in total body water as we age (the human body is 50% water and our bones are 20% water), the ability to sense thirst also declines.  Often, dehydration can be especially dangerous, leading to hospitalization, disorientation and even death.

Make Sure to Hydrate

Few daily “musts” 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 from exercise or warm weather.

The recommended daily amount for most seniors is 6 to 8 cups or 48-64 fluid ounces.  In warmer weather or after exercise, the general rule is to drink 4 ounces every 15 minutes during the time you are most active.

Mere sips of water are not 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 are not good for diabetics because of their sugar content.  The majority of  fruit juices are loaded with sugar, and most coffees and teas are diuretics. However there are some healthy choices of herbal teas, low sodium soups or even fruits.

How to Tell if you are Drinking Enough Water

Symptoms of not drinking enough water include problems with staying focused, reduced appetite, difficulty with reading or memory lapses.  Severe dehydration symptoms can range from little or concentrated urine, fatigue, rapid heart rate, skin that is 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.

A senior care facility in England recently increased the water intake of its residents to 8-10 glasses of water a day by forming a “water club.” After a few months the residents were more alert, had less falls, had fewer urinary infections, were more rested and even more cheerful.

Home Care Assistance Fort Worth caregivers make sure your loved ones get the hydration they require.  In-home care specialists, they readily recognize the symptoms of dehydration and will encourage drinking more water whenever possible.

For more information, contact Home Care Assistance of Fort Worth at www.homecareassistancefortworth.com or 817-349-7599.   We offer solutions that surpass your expectations.

 

 

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