The Importance of Hydration in the Summer — Especially for Seniors

With massive heat waves setting records across the country this summer, it’s important to stay hydrated and stay safe in these high temperatures. From cushioning joints to carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, and to keeping organs functioning properly, hydration from pure and simple H2O is what every body needs.

Dehydration in seniors is more common than you think.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, dehydration is the most common fluid and electrolyte problem among the elderly. Seniors are particularly prone to under-hydration and dehydration, and it’s a health risk that’s often overlooked. A recent study out of the UCLA School of Nursing estimates that up to 40 percent of elderly people are chronically under-hydrated. This can lead to more severe dehydration very quickly and result in life-threatening infections and other health problems.

A variety of factors make older adults more prone to dehydration.

As people age, they naturally become more susceptible to dehydration. Fluid reserves shrink in the body — and with less water, seniors can dehydrate faster. Natural changes to the thirst sensation also affect the body’s natural defenses—some seniors just don’t feel thirsty at all. People taking medications like diuretics and those living with chronic conditions like diabetes, kidney disease and dementia can also be more prone to dehydration. Being aware of these risk factors is vital.

Know the top signs of dehydration in seniors.

Some symptoms of dehydration can come on suddenly like muscle cramps or shortness of breath while others happen slowly and can create more serious health problems before people even know it. Dehydration is often undetected, so be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Not urinating frequently or dark-colored urine
  • Feeling unquenchable thirst
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Unexplained tiredness and lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache, dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Confusion, memory loss
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Few or no tears

How much water should an older person drink a day?

The National Academy of Medicine suggests an “adequate” intake of daily fluids is about 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women — with 1 cup equaling 8 ounces, however amounts can vary due to other factors. About 80% of normal water intake comes from drinking beverages, and the rest comes from food. The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink the recommended amount of fluids and eat fruits and vegetables that are high in water content like watermelon, cucumbers and grapes. Aim to drink enough water to prevent yourself from feeling thirsty.

For seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living, including help to stay hydrated and healthy, Spring Harbor can help. Call us at 706-641-0424.


Visit Spring Harbor at Green Island

Schedule a time to tour our stunning community, meet our vibrant residents, and let us answer your important questions. Once you step into our world, you’ll understand why so many seniors happily call Spring Harbor home.