Older adults are prone to dehydration for a variety of reasons. One is that age-related changes can lessen a senior’s ability to sense that they are thirsty. When they don’t detect thirst, it’s easy to forget to drink often enough.
Another leading cause is that the aging body has a more difficult time adjusting to fluctuating temperatures, which are common during the summer. A senior may take longer to warm up or cool down.
Then there is the issue of sweating. It’s a sticky part of summer no one likes to think or talk about. When the body becomes too hot, it begins to sweat in an attempt to cool off. The result is a loss of fluid that contributes to dehydration.
Another closely related issue is that high humidity prevents sweat from evaporating and cooling the body. This causes an increased need for fluids. If fluids aren’t adequately replaced, a heat-related illness can occur. Some are more dangerous and require immediate medical intervention.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has moved away from promoting specific guidelines, but you can find more information from them on daily liquids here. One note of caution is that while sodas, coffee, and tea technically count as fluids, most all of them contain caffeine. It has a diuretic effect on the body that leads to greater fluid loss.
Here are some suggestions for helping you and your senior loved one prevent dehydration:
Reducing fluid loss caused by perspiration is another step you can take to guard against dehydration. A few tips for preventing heavy perspiration are:
These tips can help you and your older family member stay hydrated and healthy during the hottest days of the year.
Whether it’s because of weather that is too hot or too cold, exercising outdoors isn’t always an option. But engaging in regular fitness activities is an essential part of aging. That’s why it’s important to have a bad weather backup plan for exercising! Indoor Fitness Activities for Seniors is a good resource to read for more ideas.