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Elderly Dehydration – Dehydration in Seniors

Summer in Texas is always hot, so it’s no surprise that most everyone here daily prays for rain. The problem though is once the rain stops it is still H-O-T! The best way to deal with it, young or old, is to drink enough water to not fall victim to any heat-related problems.

Last week I started a series on dehydration in the elderly, touching on the problem and the importance of staying hydrated.  Treating dehydration costs roughly 2 billion dollars. My research to find how many seniors die from dehydration each year did not yield a clear-cut number. The problem is two-fold. First, medical personnel are not initially looking for dehydration and second, dehydration often leads to other serious problems like renal failure. Leslie Kernisan, MD addresses this issue in betterhealthwhileaging.net1. The problem persists.  The question of how much water or other fluid is necessary daily still needs to be answered.

Recommended Fluid Intake for the Elderly

The research on how much water an older adult should consume daily is staggering. Scientists for decades have broken the research down by sex, weight, body size, time of day, and a host of other criteria. Amie Clark, author, and co-founder of The Senior List2 shared research stating that as a general rule of thumb older adults should consume roughly 8 8 oz glasses of water per day. Drinking water is not the only way seniors can stay hydrated3. Fruit juice, vegetables, milk, and fruits can all help with reaching daily requirements.

For many years I have been curious about why many products boasted about their electrolytes. Now I know. “Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge when they are dissolved in a liquid such as blood. The blood electrolytes—sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate—help regulate nerve and muscle function and maintain acid-base balance and water balance.”

And, of course, there are products the elderly can take in addition to water that will help them stay hydrated.

Electrolyte Water

There is a significant amount of dialogue on the internet regarding the question of electrolyte drinks for elderly adults. The camps seem to be equally split. My purpose today is not to say if electrolyte water is good or bad. All I am doing is pointing out the importance of hydration and electrolytes and giving you an alternative to water. Further research on any product’s attributes or efficacy I leave up to you. There are almost too many electrolyte water and similar products to list. I’m not endorsing anything, but a few hydration drinks include Gatorade, Smartwater, Pedialyte, coconut water, and hydration jelly drops.

We’ve covered what is generally considered to be the amount of water most seniors should drink daily and we have covered other sources including foods and electrolyte water products. It’s probably not a bad idea to close with a look at what the benefits of staying hydrated are for the elderly.

Benefits of Drinking Water

Staying hydrated is important. Water, we learned, helps our muscles, joints, and organs work properly.  Staying hydrated for seniors cannot be overemphasized. Stacie Lee, writing for Home Care Assistance, shares research on 6 benefits seniors receive by staying hydrated5.

  • Diminish Thirst.
  • Enhance Metabolism. …
  • Boost Brain Function. …
  • Maintain Urinary Health. …
  • Better Digestive Health. …
  • Manage Kidney Health.

I’m relatively sure these are not all the benefits elderly adults experience when staying hydrated, but it’s a good starting point. My goal today was only to show how much water or other product seniors should drink or eat daily. If an elderly parent does not stay sufficiently hydrated, the consequences can be deadly. It is, therefore, up to caregivers and adult children to not only encourage but make sure their elderly parents or patients receive enough fluids daily. Not staying properly hydrated can have devastating consequences that can interfere with a senior’s independence.

I invite you again to share below how staying hydrated has helped you or a loved one.