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Staying Hydrated as We Age

Why is it important to maintain our fluid intake as we get older?

The Importance of Staying Hydrated as We Age

The weight of the human body is made up of 60% water. Water is essential for carrying nutrients around our body and aids in the removal of waste products. Water also assists to regulate our body temperature, acts as a shock absorber and lubricates our joints.

A human brain is made up of 73% water therefore if we are not receiving sufficient hydration it can have adverse effects on how our brain functions. In older people this could result in confusion.

Our body regulates how much we eliminate and tells us when we are thirsty through hormone control. Dehydration can occur when a person is too hot or too cold, for example if a person is in a warm house with the heating on. Fluid loss can occur through sweating, vomiting or diarrhoea.

A person who is experiencing dehydration may exhibit some of the following symptoms –

  • Increased thirst
  • Constipation
  • Dark yellow or brown urine
  • Dry sticky mouth
  • Headache

As a person ages they become more susceptible to dehydration as their ability to detect thirst decreases with age. An older person may also be taking medication which could affect their water balance. Some older people may not be able to readily access drinks or restrict their intake due to fear they may not reach the toilet in time.

To ensure a person is staying hydrated adequate fluid intake for men and women is 2.5L Per day. Older people should be encouraged to take small amounts of fluid frequently throughout the day to maintain adequate hydration.

Some tips to prevent Dehydration in an Older Person

Provide / Have a variety of different drinks and/or pieces of fruit throughout the day to prevent repetition or boredom.

Ensure the drinks / liquid container are readily accessible

Provide yourself or a loved with reminders or prompts to have a drink

Assist to avoid fear of incontinence through regular toilet breaks throughout the day. Decreasing liquids later in the evening, ensuring the bulk of the liquids are consumed during the day.

Sources –

Assisted Living Today http://assistedlivingtoday.com/2012/07/5-tips-for-preventing-dehydration-in-the-elderly/

Natural Hydration Council www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk

adequate fluid intake for men and women is 2.5L per day

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