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A senior’s guide to staying hydrated

submitted by Melinda Ratini, DO, Geriatric Medicine, Lower Bucks Hospital 

As you get older, your body may need more fluid if your blood sugar is too high, or if you have a high fever or an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. Certain medications such as diuretics (water pills) may cause you to lose more water in your urine. And your kidneys may not be quite as good at regulating your fluids as they were 20 years ago. 

If you have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you may forget to drink or not know you are thirsty. If you have arthritis or are weak, it may be harder to get yourself a drink, or you might not want to drink a lot for fear of having to go to the bathroom often. A stroke or dryness in the mouth may cause you to have trouble swallowing too.  

Because of these and other challenges, seniors are up to 30% more likely to become dehydrated than someone who is younger.  

It is also harder to tell when you are dehydrated as you get older and may just feel tired. You may become confused, your urine may become dark and less frequent, or you may become dizzy or constipated. You may need to have fluids replaced in the hospital. 

Here are some ways to stay dehydrated:  

  • Make a schedule of when and how much you should drink throughout the day;  
  • Use a timer or set reminders on your phone; 
  • Keep a water bottle handy; 
  • Limit water intake after dinner if nighttime accidents are a worry;
  • Eat foods that are high in water – like fruits, vegetables, soups, yogurt, Jell-O;
  • Watch your caffeine intake and avoid alcohol. 

In the summer, stay in air conditioning. Do outside activities in the morning or after the sun goes down and take water with you. 

With a little planning, you can stay as hydrated and cool as a cucumber this summer.   

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