Dehydration is a serious problem that can affect anyone…at any age…at any time of year. And it’s especially common among older adults.
Plus, when dehydration strikes an older person, it’s often mistaken for something else, as it can cause sudden mental confusion, a drop in blood pressure, an abnormal heart beat or palpitations, angina (chest pain), recurrent urinary tract infections, coma, and even death.
So, today, let’s discuss why dehydration poses such a big risk as you get older…and what you can do to prevent it.
Dehydration is common among older adults
Normally, your body tells you to drink when it’s time to replenish your fluids. In fact, studies show the amount of water (or liquids) you drink to satisfy your “thirst sensation” naturally matches your fluid needs.
However, this natural “thirst sensation” stops working when you drink sugary beverages, such as soft drinks, energy drinks, or sports drinks. It also diminishes as we age. So, older people tend to drink less because they simply don’t feel as thirsty.
Plus, older adults who live alone (or continue to face social isolation as the coronavirus pandemic drags on) also tend to drink fewer liquids—increasing their risk of becoming dehydrated.
Not to mention, certain health conditions (such as Type II diabetes and kidney disease) and common medications (such as diuretics) can also cause dehydration.
Of course, older people with mobility or incontinence problems may purposefully limit fluid intake because they have trouble getting to the kitchen or bathroom themselves. And even healthy adults tend to limit their fluids in the evening so they don’t have to get up to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Tips for staying optimally hydrated
As I’ve reported before, there’s no scientific evidence supporting the need to obsessively glug gallons of water throughout the day. In fact, constantly guzzling water can disrupt your electrolyte balance—causing brain and heart problems and even death (especially if you’re on a low-salt diet).
Instead, simply aim to take in about a cup of liquid every two hours. Feel free to enjoy many different types of beverages, besides just plain water…including herbal infusions, herbal teas, coconut water, milk, broth-based soups, and coffee. (Remember, science shows drinking coffee does NOT cause dehydration. And on the contrary, it can count toward your daily fluid intake.)
Now, I know a lot of older adults enjoy a cup of juice in the morning as part of their traditional breakfast. Just remember, prepackaged juices such as “cranberry juice cocktail” often contain a ton of added sugars. So—make sure you choose a brand made with 100 percent whole juice and no added sugars. You can also make your own freshly squeezed juice and smoothies in the morning using whole fruits.
Eating six to eight whole fruits and vegetables throughout the day can also help improve your hydration. Some of the most-hydrating whole fruits include: melons, oranges, peaches, pineapple, tangerines, and watermelons. (Remember, eating whole fruits does NOT cause the same metabolic problems as eating table sugar. Plus, whole fruits contain important fiber and nutrients, like B vitamins and vitamin C.) Some of the most- hydrating whole vegetables include: celery, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes (technically, a type of fruit), and zucchini.
To help stay hydrated on a cellular level, I recommend adding South African rooibos extract (also called “aspal” or “red bush”) to your (hot or cold) drinking water. Rooibos also helps fire up your mitochondria, your cells’ energy factories.
You can learn more about the benefits of rooibos and staying hydrated on a cellular level in the March 2013 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures [“Are you drinking rooibos yet?”]. Subscribers have access to this report and all of my archives. So, if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. Click here now!