My daughter, a medical massage therapist is a strong hydration advocate. She continually teaches her clients the ‘whys, whens, and the hows’ of staying hydrated. When we moved out to the east coast, she encouraged me to increase my water intake by surprising me with a high-quality, stainless steel water cup. I love it and take it everywhere I go.
I recently read an article about the seriousness of dehydration. It can have severe effects – especially in older folks. Among other things, it cautions that dehydration can cause symptoms that resemble dementia. Unfortunately, it is not always obvious when someone is suffering from a lack of fluids.
Signs of dehydration
Avoiding dehydration is important as it can cause serious health issues such as UTIs and kidney stones. Watch for tell-tale signs such as bad breath or dark-colored urine when suspecting dehydration. Other signs may include dry skin, muscle cramps, headaches, and irritability.
It turns out that thirst is not always a dependable indicator to tell us our body needs water. As we age, we tend to become less thirsty. Our need for water, however, does not diminish, so it’s wisdom to put a system in place that will help keep us hydrated at the right level. I’ve discovered there are a few misconceptions about how much water we generally require on a daily basis.
I was never sure how much was the right amount. While talking with my daughter one day, she said, “The rule of thumb for how much water you need is, divide your body weight in half and the answer is the number of ounces one should drink each day.” For example, if a person weighs 120 pounds, then half of that would be 60 ounces. There are some conditions such as kidney ailments that require monitoring, so if in doubt, check with your doctor to find out what would be your ideal amount.
All liquids are not the same
I love both coffee and tea. Unfortunately, they tend to act as diuretics, so I can’t rely on either my morning coffee or afternoon tea when making sure I am staying hydrated. Fruit juice, soda, or alcohol have the same effect. Also, be aware that some medications, such as diuretics and laxatives can cause more ‘outgo’ than ‘intake’.
Increasing how much water you drink may not be the entire answer for preventing dehydration. Water not only needs to get into your body but also inside each individual cell. This is where electrolytes come in. They are a crucial factor when trying to stay hydrated. According to healthline.com, “Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge”. My daughter describes them this way, “The role of electrolytes in hydration is they act like escorts – they escort the water to your organs and tissue.”
Tips to increase hydration
It’s not always easy to make lifestyle changes, but with something as crucial as getting enough fluids, it is worth trying. Here are a few tips on how to encourage loved-ones to drink more liquids.
- Fill a container with water each morning to monitor your progress.
- Invest in a water bottle, and keep it handy. When drinking, try taking small sips more often.
- Place a mug in the bathroom as a reminder.
Our bodies also receive water from foods that contain high water content: cucumbers – I was surprised to discover, have one of the highest percentages of water. Bell peppers, watermelon as well as broth are also good choices.
What are the obstacles to hydration?
There are several reasons why folks might curtail their fluid intake. A study in MedicalNewsToday suggests that some have concerns about not managing to get to the bathroom in time due to mobility issues or obstacles such as stairs.
Not wanting to be interrupted at night is another reason as well as plain ol’ forgetfulness.
To help alleviate some of these obstacles, look for creative ways to make modifications to the living arrangements as well as consider setting a cut-off time for fluids each afternoon to help insure a good night sleep.
No matter where you land on the subject, wisdom leans towards the water. It’s best to drink up. Cheers!
Has your world been touched by dementia?
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