Tips to Stay Healthy and Hydrated

Posted by Loretta Kerr on 01/29/2015

Dehydration is a very serious condition for people of any age and happens to be a widespread risk that is easily overlooked, especially for seniors.

The next time you feel unusually tired, weak or lightheaded, take a moment to recall how much water or fluids you have consumed in the last 24 hours. Thousands of seniors are hospitalized every year due to symptoms caused by dehydration. These symptoms are often mistaken or misdiagnosed as other illnesses and can be avoided simply by drinking more water. Dehydration can also make you feel disoriented and forgetful. Proper hydration can prevent the symptoms listed above and also help you avoid developing other conditions common to dehydration.

Whether you live alone or in a care facility, here are a few tips to help you stay healthy and hydrated.

Tip #1: Convenience

Often times when mobility is limited, the simple act of going to the kitchen to get a drink of water can seem like a daunting task. Consider keeping bottled water in different locations in your home such as under the coffee table or on a shelf next to your bed. Remind yourself to take a drink out of each bottle as you move to different rooms in your home. You may also consider a large water dispenser next to your favorite chair or sitting place. Don’t be shy; ask visitors to refill your glass or bottles or to help with heavy containers.

Tip #2: Avoid Diuretics

Sadly, many of our favorite morning beverages such as coffee and hot tea can contain high amounts of caffeine which can actually lead to dehydration. Try to limit these beverages or replace them with non-caffeinated options. Chances are you may not even miss the caffeine and the reduction combined with better hydration may even give you a better night of sleep.

Tip #3: Variety

Staying hydrated can be achieved several ways besides just drinking plain water and eliminating caffeine. A glass of natural juice or a snack such as watermelon or cucumbers are also healthy options to stay hydrated. If you actually prefer water, jazz it up a bit and refresh your taste buds by adding a lemon or orange wedge, sliced cucumbers or a fresh mint leaf to your water.

Tip #4: Staying hydrated year round

When the temperature changes outside our habits and routines often change too. When it’s warmer outside we may feel like drinking more fluids. Warmer weather often encourages more activity too. If you become more active be sure to increase your fluids. However, when the weather cools off and we spend more time inside we also have a tendency to not notice our lack of fluids until we are already thirsty. Feeling thirsty means your body is already dehydrating. Stay ahead of your thirst and try to maintain healthy fluid consumption all year long, no matter what the weather is like outside.

Tip #5: Quality

If you prefer bottled water over tap water there are many different brands and varieties to choose from. Believe it or not, many bottle options contain additives such as sodium. Check the labels and choose natural spring or purified waters whenever possible.

 Tip #6: Overcoming Inconvenience

As mentioned before, the act of going to the kitchen can be difficult and if mobility is limited the act of going to the bathroom several times a day can be an even bigger task. Many seniors actually try to limit their fluid intake to avoid multiple trips to the bathroom and in turn become dehydrated. As we age incontinence can also become an issue and people worry about the inability to reach a bathroom in time and worry about possible “accidents”. However, once your body is properly hydrated, depending on your individual condition, you may actually improve your mobility. Also, the overwhelming urge you previously experienced after flooding your dehydrated system will likely decrease when you are drinking the right amount of fluids. It may take a little time, but you will be able to find the right balance and the right timing so you can stay hydrated and worry free.

Talk to your doctor or caregiver about how much water is right for you and discuss any concerns you may have about incontinence. Your doctor can provide plenty of suggestions to help you stay hydrated.