Staying hydrated everyday is the key to staying and feeling healthy. Our bodies have an intricate system of keeping fluids and electrolytes in balance. Due to changes in the body as we age, such as a decrease in total body water as well as a decreased sense of thirst, this regulation system may no longer function properly, making dehydration more common. Dehydration especially in the elderly can lead to hospitalization, infection, loss of cognitive function and even death if not treated immediately. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, no urine or very concentrated (dark yellow color) sunken eyes, lethargy, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and dry skin.
The requirement is 48–64 oz of fluid per day (almost 2 liters). For those who fear incontinence, consider things like undergarments or pelvic floor exercises. Don’t limit your intake because of it. Try to drink throughout the day (4 oz. Every 20 minutes).
Fluid may come from fruits and vegetables, or soups and smoothies. Alcohol and caffeine don’t count because they have a dehydrating effect and should be avoided or limited.
A good way to keep track of your intake is to get a 2–3 liter bottle to pour from so you can see how you drank by the end of each day. A pitcher of water with lemon, lime or orange slices, grapes and fresh mint is a nice refreshing drink. Remember, the more you drink the more water your body wants. Hydration is important to your health. Stay strong and drink up!