In this article, we write about the importance of keeping hydrated in those over 70 years of age.
Why drink water?
Water is essential to life and is required by the body to regulate metabolism, as well as for other vital functions like pumping blood and lubricating the joints.
The benefits of adequate water intake are often well documented. However, a lesser-known fact is that those over 70 are at a higher risk of dehydration due to diminished thirst and appetite, and therefore, the importance of hydration in this age group needs to be highlighted more.
In this article, we explain why older adults tend to drink less water and the side effects of resultant dehydration. We then also shed light on how staying adequately hydrated improves your health and overall quality of life.
What Is An Adequate Hydration Level?
As the national council for ageing suggests your daily consumption of water/fluids in ounces should be equal to the number that amounts to a third of your body weight in lbs. For example, a person weighing 200 pounds should drink approximately 67 ounces of water daily.
Generally, your daily requirement of water equals 7 to 8 cups or 1.5 Litres.
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration is medically defined as a higher amount of fluid loss from the body as compared to fluid intake.
Here are some of the general signs and symptoms of dehydration:
Feeling thirsty constantly
Dark yellow urine (indication of concentrated urine due to fewer water levels)
Oliguria or low urine output (less than four times a day)
Itching, dullness, and wrinkles on the skin
Why are those over 70 at risk of dehydration?
Research shows that older adults are at a higher risk of developing dehydration as compared to the rest of the population. Here’s why:
Hydration levels in our body are regulated by water and sodium balance which can change as we age.
People encounter several chronic illnesses like dementia, depression, and heart disease which can affect fluid intake.
Moreover, there are several social and environmental factors that, in some form, influence the body's physiology, resulting in low thirst or refusal to drink water.
Dehydration due to excessive fluid loss is a significant side effect of several drugs that are often prescribed for various chronic illnesses.
What Are The Health Complications Of Dehydration?
Water is integral to carrying out normal body functions, which is why dehydration can lead to a series of health complications:
Hypernatremia refers to high sodium levels in the body. When fluid loss is not proportionate with sodium excretion, sodium rises, which leads to various side effects like:
Water is crucial for blood pressure regulation. In case of dehydration, our blood pressure drops. Consequently, blood flow to the brain is reduced, which can lead to fatigue and tiredness.
Another factor that contributes to fatigue is the inability of the body to diffuse heat. In case of low pressure, blood is directed towards the muscles, and hence heat trapped in the body is not exchanged with the environment via skin.
It has been suggested that a reduction in hydration can result in short-term memory loss and other cognitive impairments. At the same time, prolonged dehydration causes the brain to shrink, which is often the cause of brain fog onset in the elderly.
Adequate hydration is critical for the kidneys to filter waste products from the blood. Therefore, dehydration leads to a build-up of waste like excess oxalate, urea, calcium, phosphate, acids, etc.. If waste products build up in the body, it can result in the formation of kidney stones. This condition is not only severely painful but can also result in infection, which ends in a series of complications like kidney injury and urinary infections.
Dehydration can cause serious symptoms associated with the cardiovascular system. Soon after the blood pressure initially drops due to low water levels, the compensatory mechanisms set in. This means the heart starts working extra hard to maintain an efficient blood supply, which increases the heart rate.
This leads to the following:
Shortness of breath
Cardiac arrest (in extreme cases of long-term dehydration)
Several respiratory problems in the elderly are chalked up to dehydration. Low water content in the body initially reduces the respiratory rate. However, to carry out normal body functions, the respiratory rate eventually increases to sometimes dangerous levels.
Additionally, the water loss impairs the protective mucosal coatings on the airway and lungs.
High Susceptibility To Infections
As we know, water is needed to eliminate toxins from the body. Dehydration allows these waste products to accumulate in the blood and body tissues, which makes you prone to developing all sorts of infections.
What are the benefits of staying well-hydrated?
Here’s how ensuring appropriate water intake impacts your health:
Keeps electrolytes balanced
Ensures proper kidney functioning
Prevents multiple chronic diseases
Maintains an adequate blood flow
How can those over 70's stay hydrated?
Diminished thirst sensation can make it difficult for older adults to stay hydrated. Here are some tips that can help:
Eat water-rich fruits like strawberries, grapes, cucumbers, lettuce, soups, etc.
Keep your salt intake less than 6g per day.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Drinking clean and fresh water is important. Water filters are a great way to ensure the maximum removal of impurities from water. If you intend on buying one, you can view options at best-osmosis-systems.com.
Our risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis increases with age. Ensuring a healthy lifestyle and taking good care of yourself are essential to the quality of our lives. Dehydration is one of the major problems encountered by seniors. It rapidly deteriorates health and is responsible for several health complications. Read and follow the tips mentioned in the post to stay hydrated, and enjoy a healthy, fulfilling, long life.