Summer give us many chances to enjoy the sunshine and great weather. We can go on morning walks, hikes, hold picnics, and more. All of these activities in the sunshine and warm weather significantly lift your spirits and boost your mood. However, one risk to look out for seniors during the summer is staying hydrated. Seniors are susceptible to dehydration, so they need to take extra precautions while doing outdoor activities. This can be due to age-related changes in the body’s capacity for self-regulating and handling extreme temperatures.
Seniors are at higher risk for dehydration because of other factors as well. For example, they may have mobility problems and feel like it is too much work to go back and forth to the kitchen or water fountain to drink water, or to lug around a jug. Older adults may also be hesitant to drink more water because they would prefer to avoid frequent bathroom trips, and they are also fearful of possibly taking a spill during one of these excursions. Older adults also struggle with incontinence, so limiting water intake lowers their risk of having an accident. Seniors on the go are usually opposed to using public facilities because they may not have the adequate level of comfort they require. Seniors may also have memory problems and either forget they have been outside for a long time or forget where they left water or how to get it. They could also have trouble recognizing the body signals the indicate it is time for them to drink water.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults consume at least 48-64 ounces of liquid every day unless their physician advises differently. It can be difficult to ingest this much water on a regular basis for everyone, let alone a senior who may have memory or mobility problems. You may need to find creative ways to help your senior stay hydrated. Here are some ways to do just that:
Encourage First Thing in the Morning
You can encourage your senior to reach for a glass of water first thing in the morning. We often need a little liquid assistance to clear our throats in the morning anyway, so simply encourage them to have a full glass right when they wake up to help them hydrate and flush out the toxins from overnight.
You can set little post it notes or set repeated alerts to tell your senior to stay hydrated. If you live with your senior you can simply remind them. It would be helpful to also have ready access to cold water everywhere around the house, so considering investing several mini coolers or mini fridges.
You can invest in some BPA-free water bottles that the senior can have numbered 1-8. Simply make sure they are filled up every day by either yourself or the senior and encourage them to finish their fun little routine of drinking water while they do whatever it is they do during the day.
You can add a little flavor to senior’s water if they have a sweet tooth. There are juice packets that you can squirt into water that turn them from typical tap to totally tubular. They may also appreciate some natural fruit infusion, so try buying an infusion jug and adding things like pineapple, grapes, and mint.
Speaking of fruit flavor, have some hydrating fruits lying around that your senior can munch on throughout the day! Some good foods to include would be: watermelon, tomatoes, raspberries, oranges, spinach, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, and broccoli. Yum!
It will also be important to encourage our senior to take steps that will reduce any fluid loss should they choose to do any outdoor activities. Some guidelines to follow would be to ensure that they dress in lightweight clothing that is breathable and reflects sunlight. They should also try and stay indoors or in the shade during the hottest hours of the day, typically from 11 to 4. If they do go outside, make sure that they apply sunscreen and wear some kind of protective hat with a wide, circular brim.
Beyond the heat of the sun, your senior may also be at risk for dehydration because of factors related to aging. Elderly dehydration can occur for a number of reasons, for example:
Many seniors take medications for certain age related ailments. It is not that uncommon for some seniors to take multiple medications at once. If any of these medications are diuretics, they could be sweating our more fluid than they are taking in.
Decreased Sense of Thirst
Aging can dull the senses. As a person’s sense of thirst becomes less acute, they may fail to recognize the signs that they are becoming dehydrated. If they are having difficulty recognizing the signs of dehydration, they could also have difficulty getting up to go get a drink.
Decreased Kidney Function
As the body ages, it loses the reserve capacity and function for a number of organs. Our kidneys our less able to conserve fluid than they were before.
If you’re looking for more senior living blogs and resources, make sure to read our informative blogs every week. They will provide answers to many senior living topics. If your thinking it may be time for your loved one to move into one of the best active retirement communities, Landmark Senior Living is the place for you. People. Passion. Purpose. That’s our mantra, and we live by it every day.