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Staying Hydrated in the Summer Months

As we move into the warmer summer months, staying hydrated does more than quench our thirst. Water plays a key role in our body’s daily functions. Water is the fuel our body needs for our internal temperature control, lubricating our joints, maintaining fluid balance, protecting our organs and tissues, and removing harmful waste from our kidneys and liver.

Our blood and muscles are primarily made up of water. Our body fat and every other part and organ in our body has water components as well.

Dehydration can happen quicker than you realize, and it’s important to know what to be on the lookout for and how to avoid dehydration in the summer and beyond.

Is Dehydration More Common in Older Adults?

Anyone can become dehydrated, but the situation is especially common as you get older. As you grow older, your thirst is significantly reduced. In addition, you are more susceptible to dehydration because you have less water in your body compared to younger adults.

Other factors that may put older adults at greater risk of dehydration include forgetting to drink fluids or challenges getting up to get a drink. A recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Nursing found that up to 40% of older adults may be chronically underhydrated.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration can tend to go unnoticed. In fact, these symptoms are often attributed to the natural effects of aging, medications, or other medical conditions. With that, it is essential to be aware of the signs of dehydration for you and your loved ones.

Understanding these warning signs can also help you act before the situation gets worse. These include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Throbbing headache
  • Muscle weakness or cramping
  • Less frequent urination or urine concentrated and darker in color
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sunken eyes

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Diarrhea or vomiting that lasts longer than 24 hours
  • Feeling irritable, disoriented and much more tired than usual
  • Bloody or black stool
  • Unable to keep fluids down

How Do You Know If You’re Drinking Enough Water?

Key findings from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommend a daily water intake of 11.5 cups for women and 15.5 cups for men. However, it is also recommended to speak with your healthcare provider about how much water you should be drinking daily as they can better consider your medical history and current medications.

Certain medications can be more likely to cause dehydration. Speak to your physician about any medications you are taking that may have dehydration as a side effect.

Creative Ways to Stay Hydrated in the Summer

While it may be challenging to always meet your preferred water intake, here are some creative ways to get it in:

  • Keep spare reusable water bottles in the areas you frequent most, including your home, workspace, and car.
  • Make it more enticing by adding slices of fresh fruit and veggies to create your own infusion that suits your taste. Fruits such as strawberries or orange slices can add a bit of sweetness to water; cucumber with fresh mint is an invigorating and cooling combination.
  • Eat more juicy fruits such as melons, peaches, and strawberries. These summer treats are not only tasty but will help your body stay hydrated. Herbal teas can also be a flavorful alternative to water and can be enjoyed iced or hot.
  • Avoid or decrease consumption of more diuretic beverages including alcohol and coffee which can increase urination while also dehydrating you further.

 Following these tips will do much more than keep you cool; they will help keep you healthy.

What symptoms of dehydration have you experienced in the past? What beverages or treats do you enjoy most in the summer?

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The Author

As Director of Clinical Services at Aegis Living, Julie oversees the clinical care of 2,500 senior living residents and a team of health services directors across 34 communities. Julie is a registered nurse, known for building strong clinical and care teams who help older adults live their lives to the fullest.

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