When Margaret was admitted into the hospital her diagnosis was dehydration. A hospital stay for dehydration? How could that be? Something so simple to address and yet Margaret was having to endure a hospital visit.
All of us understand that water is essential for the function of the body, but did you know that the percentage of water in the body decreases as we age? This natural part of aging has a dramatic effect on our health. Every part of our body uses water for optimal function – even our adult brain is made up of 73% water!
When you feel the sensation of thirst your body is already slightly dehydrated. The challenge with seniors is this sense of thirst is diminished. They may not feel thirst, and therefore are at greater risk of dehydration.
So, why is this important? Like any machine – the body works with proper maintenance. Lack of fluid intake can show up as:
- dry mouth
- muscle weakness
- sleepiness and/or fatigue
- loss of appetite
- constipation and/or intestinal discomfort
- urine that is dark in color.
We need to learn to read the possible signs and take action. Even though some of these signs may not appear like typical thirst indicators, paying close attention to these triggers could prevent a more serious health issue.
So how much water does the body need? The average sedentary adult in a temperate climate needs on average 1.5 liters of water per day, or about six - eight oz. glasses. Eating more fruits and vegetables can also be a good source of water, adding more whole grain fiber to your diet allows the body to retain more water.
So, here’s your action step – add this schedule of water intake to each day.
- Morning (upon waking) - 8 oz.
- Mid-morning break- 8 oz.
- Lunch time- 8 oz.
- Mid-afternoon break- 8oz.
- Dinner – 8 oz.
- Before bed – 8 oz.
TIP: zero-calorie flavorings can make daily water intake more enjoyable.
If you are a caregiver or family member, make sure your loved ones are getting the water they need to keep their body working effectively. The signs can be confusing so pay attention! The good news? It’s FREE and CLEAR – water keeps you healthy!