At any age, drinking enough fluids and staying hydrated is vital for our bodies to function properly, such as adapting to fluctuating temperatures, providing a healthy blood supply to essential organs, and regulating body temperature.
As we grow older, however, staying hydrated becomes more challenging. According to BBC News, research says that “a quarter of those living in their homes without a [caregiver] did not get enough to drink.”
With age, our body’s ability to conserve water is reduced, and the feeling of thirst becomes less prominent. Many individuals use the sense of thirst to recognize when he or she needs to take in fluids. Because this feeling is limited in older adults, waiting to feel thirsty can quickly lead to dehydration. In fact, feeling thirsty is an indication that you are already dehydrated.
At Origin Active Lifestyle Communities, with retirement communities throughout Canada, we understand the importance of staying hydrated and its effects on our overall health and well-being. We have gathered warning signs of dehydration and tips to help you take in more fluids this summer (and all year!).
Health Effects of Dehydration
Hydration is essential for overall health; without consuming enough fluids, you put yourself at risk for adverse effects on your mental and physical health. Older individuals who are dehydrated may experience fatigue, dizziness, or weakness, increasing the risk of experiencing a fall or injury.
Furthermore, not drinking enough water or fluids lowers your cognitive functioning. Symptoms of this include poor memory, a shorter attention span, trouble concentrating on common tasks, and a slower reaction time.
Hypotension, commonly referred to as low blood pressure, is also an indication that you are dehydrated. Low blood pressure without any other symptoms in a healthy individual is not usually a concern. However, “low blood pressure can be a sign of an underlying problem – especially in [older individuals] – where it may cause inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs.”
The importance of staying hydrated also extends to the health of your skin. Pressure sores and other skin conditions, such as dryness and itchiness, are often a result of dehydration.
Water and other fluids help to flush the body of waste and other toxins; not drinking enough fluids makes it difficult for your body to rid itself of these toxins, leading to urinary tract infections or kidney problems.
Signs of Dehydration
Many warning signs may indicate that you are dehydrated. Paying attention to these symptoms and responding to them will help you avoid the negative consequences of dehydration. According to UnlockFood.ca, signs of dehydration can include:
- Dry lips and dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Dizziness and fainting
- Low blood pressure and increased heart rate
Because blood pressure affects how much blood is supplied to all areas of the body, the temperature of your hands and feet can be used as a signal to test for low blood pressure. When your hands and feet are colder than the rest of your body, this indicates that blood circulation is reduced, and blood pressure is low, meaning that you could be dehydrated.
These signs are even more important to look for during summer months when you are more likely to be spending time outdoors or in direct sunlight. “When you’re hot, you sweat more than normal, so you need to drink more to replace the water your body is losing (Canadian Red Cross).”
Tips for Increasing Hydration
The importance of staying hydrated is too significant to be ignored. If you have trouble drinking enough water or fluids regularly, try these tips to help increase your fluid intake and, ultimately, your hydration!
- Set a daily fluid intake goal
- Have fluids available and easily accessible at all times
- Consider fluids other than plain water
- Consume foods with high-water content, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and melon
Origin Active Lifestyle Communities focuses on providing chef-prepared dining services that offer delicious, nutrient-dense meals for our community members. We concentrate on catering to each individual’s nutritional requirements and dietary restrictions and create meals that support a healthy lifestyle. We invite you to schedule a visit and dine with us. Experience the Origin Way for yourself!