The Importance of Hydration

Did you know March 22nd is World Water Day? In honor of this United Nations declaration, we'd like to share some important information about water and aging. Older adults are at increased risk for dehydration because of age-related changes. Water is a nutrient and an essential component of the body for maintaining life. Water transports wastes; supports tissue and cell structure, and regulates temperature.  The lack of water in the body – dehydration – may result from either a decrease in fluid intake or an increase in fluid loss.  Age Related Changes   Certain changes that occur with aging increase an older person's risk of developing dehydration. The function of the kidneys, which helps to regulate fluid, declines with aging. The ability to recognize thirst decreases with aging. With aging, the amount of body water decreases. So even a small change in fluid intake can cause dehydration. The following factors can lead to fluid loss and dehydration: Kidney problems or diabetes. Medications such as diuretics (water pills) increase the amount of fluid excreted from the body. Conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, stroke, or dementia may cause swallowing difficulties that can lead to a decrease in fluid intake.  Signs of dehydration include: dry mouth and nose loose and/or dry skin skin “tenting” in the forehead increased tiredness and /or weakness restlessness sudden (acute) confusion concentrated urine dizziness increased heart rate loss of appetite constipation nausea and vomiting Some of these symptoms, such as dry mouth, loose and/or dry skin, constipation, may occur as a result of age-related changes rather than dehydration. To avoid dehydration, older adults are encouraged to: Identify medications that may cause fluid loss, e.g., diuretics (water pills). Drink 1.5 – 2 liters (6 – 8 glasses) of fluids per day (unless medical conditions rule out this amount. Keep a variety of beverages available (that are okay with your specific diet, e.g., diabetes), as well as foods containing water (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables. yogurts). Drink frequently during the daytime, rather than drinking large amounts at one time. Seek medical attention: If symptoms of dehydration persist, or If you observe swallowing difficulties such as choking or coughing excessively after eating or drinking.