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Staying hydrated this summer is the number one thing folks can do to stay safe, especially older adults who have an increased chance of becoming dehydrated.
Here are some tips from Renata Gelman, RN, BSN at Partners in Care, an affiliate of the not-for-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) addressing why seniors are more likely to become dehydrated and advice on how to stay hydrated as we approach hot, hot weather.
Reasons seniors may be more susceptible to dehydration:
- As we age, our body’s ability to conserve water is reduced.
- Sometimes seniors may not drink enough fluids, because they simply do not feel or recognize that they are thirsty.
- Physical disabilities may prevent seniors from obtaining proper nutrition. It could be hard to drink or hold a glass; painful to get up from a chair; painful or exhausting to go to the bathroom.
- A senior might feel that they are drinking enough water, as medications such as diuretics, antihistamines and psychiatric drugs can affect frequency of urinating.
- Seniors may not always drink a sufficient amount of fluids because of bladder issues and incontinence.
How seniors can stay cool and hydrated this summer:
- Eat foods that contain water, such as broth soups, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, oranges and watermelon. Jell-O and ice pops are also good ideas.
- Beware of coffee and alcohol, which can actually dehydrate, rather than replenish, the body of fluids. Caffeine increases urine output and makes you dehydrate faster.
- Pack a bottle of water when you head outdoors.
- Consult your physician on the amount of liquid you should consumer if you are on a fluid-restricted diet.
- Do not take salt tablets as this could raise your blood pressure.
Dehydration symptoms can be mild to severe and can include headache, dizziness, dark urine, disorientation, fatigue, seizures, high and low blood pressure, digestive disorders, fainting and urinary infections. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening so it is important to pay close attention to these common symptoms and intervene early.
If you begin feeling dehydrated, Renata recommends drinking a rehydration beverage, water, juice or sports drink to replace fluids and minerals, and take it easy for 24 hours. Sometimes it can take as long as a day and half to completely replace the lost fluids. For more information, please visit http://www.partnersincareny.org or call 1-888-735-8913.