People over 60 are more likely to become dehydrated—here are four RD-approved hydration hacks to help.
According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration can cause major health concerns such as heat stroke, heat cramps, dizziness, stumbles, UTIs, and kidney difficulties.
Dehydration can affect anyone (especially if you exercise a lot), but it’s more dangerous for people over 60 because their bodies retain less water and their thirst feelings reduce as they age. In a nutshell, a hydration plan may be necessary.
The explanation for the decline in thirst sense with age is unknown, but there are a number of factors that operate against hydration levels. Medications can make a difference. Existing symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, as well as cognitive disorders such as dementia, may be exacerbated.
“The solution to hydration for older and elderly people is both straightforward and not so simple,” explains registered dietitian-nutritionist Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT. While it’s true that consuming more fluids is beneficial, it’s not as simple as telling folks to drink more water.
According to Volpe, there’s a narrow line between drinking enough water and drinking too much water, particularly for people taking drugs that affect salt and fluid balance in the body.
People with particular medical illnesses, such as heart failure or kidney disease, are frequently advised to stay on a fluid restriction for health reasons, so general hydration rules would not apply to them, according to her.
This is because increased levels of fluid intake can overburden organs like the kidneys when they can’t function at their optimal capacity. People with this type of disease should talk to their doctor about how to stay within the boundaries of their specific fluid requirements.
Staying hydrated is crucial for people of all ages, but as you become older, thirst cues aren’t always a trustworthy source of information, according to Volpe. So, if you’re having trouble staying hydrated throughout the day, we’ve got some tips for you below.
1. Make a timetable
As previously said, managing your hydration is critical to avoid getting up in the middle of the night to pee—especially if you have mobility concerns.
Drinking water first thing in the morning, remembering to drink water after coffee (since coffee is a diuretic), or setting timers and reminders to drink water throughout the day could be on your to-do list.
Water breaks can also be scheduled around medicine requirements, according to Volpe. Making a timetable that works with your health demands, for example, is a good idea if you take a prescription that doesn’t benefit from water consumption.
2. Make sure you’re getting lots of water
The average adult in the United States gets roughly 20% of their water from food, according to a 2016 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients.
This is fantastic news since it shows that you can meet your water demands by eating a well-balanced diet. Cucumbers, watermelon, oranges, apples, and other water-rich fruits and vegetables can help hydrate the body throughout the day.
3. Experiment with different types of beverages
Not everyone loves the taste and thirst-quenching power of water, especially if you’re not feeling very thirsty. So if you’re looking to mix things up, take comfort in knowing there are a lot of other hydrating beverages, Volpe says. This could include fruit juice, tea, Gatorade, sparkling water, smoothies, and more. Switching up what you drink can help keep the dehydration away.
Just make sure that what you consume doesn’t conflict with any dietary or health needs. For instance, grapefruit juice contains an enzyme that can either block the effects of a medicine or increase the amount of it in the bloodstream, according to the FDA.
4. Be aware of your physical activity and the weather
According to Volpe, older persons are more likely to become dehydrated. When you’re active, make sure you’re drinking enough water or drinking a sports drink to avoid dehydration. It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast and make sure you’ll be able to find some shade and relax on hot days.