– By Alison Kennedy Hand
From March 11-17, we’re celebrating Nutrition and Hydration Week for 2019. There’s no better time than now to emphasize the importance of drinking water.
An individual can use or lose more fluid than is taken in. Not replacing the lost fluids is called dehydration. Anyone can become dehydrated, but older adults are at greater risk for dehydration due to a variety of reasons.
Some causes of dehydration are chronic diseases, swallowing problems, medication usage, kidney deficiency with age, and decreased taste bud sensation. Thirst isn’t always a good indicator of the body’s need for water. Some people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated.
Here are some important signs or symptoms of dehydration: dry mouth, dry skin, extreme thirst, confusion, irritability, sunken eyes, difficulty walking, dizziness, headaches, inability to sweat, rapid heart rate, constipation, low blood pressure, dark urine or decreased urine output.
How does a person avoid dehydration?
- Drink plenty of fluids!
- Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as these types of drinks cause a person to urinate more.
- Eat more fruit with a high-water content such as grapes, watermelon, peaches, and berries or water rich vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, and summer squash.
- Drink more during the day and limit drinking before bed. Drinking small amounts of water routinely throughout the day can help.
And remember, older adults can become dehydrated during minor illnesses such as with a bladder infection or bronchitis. It’s important to recognize this and make an effort to drink extra fluids even when you’re not feeling well.