Staying hydrated in the warmer weather

Staying hydrated, especially as it becomes warmer, is important for everyone. Insufficient consumption of fluids, especially water, can result in headaches, lethargy, urinary tract infections, kidney failure, digestive troubles, hallucinations and poor blood circulation.

But, did you know that the elderly population is at greater risk of dehydration? As our bodies age, our thirst-response mechanism declines. Exacerbating the problem is that some older people may take medications that act like diuretics, contributing to a greater fluid loss. In addition, elderly people may have limited mobility or may no longer be able to reach or hold a glass or cup or simply be unwilling to drink as they’ll be needing to use the bathroom more frequently.

Australian scientists working with the University of Texas researchers identified that a region of the brain – the mid cingulate cortex – is responsible for co-ordinating signals of thirst, such as a dry mouth, and found that it malfunctioned in elderly people. As a result, seniors are then more likely to underestimate their level of dehydration.

So, what are the warning signs that older people should be on the look-out for, to prevent dehydration?

  • It’s important to look out for leg cramps
  • Fatigue
  • A rough, dry or coated tongue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness and agitation

And, what can elderly people do to prevent dehydration?

  • Drinking more water throughout the day
  • Fruits and vegetables that can provide increased water content, including oranges, celery, carrots and watermelon
  • Soups, broths, herbal teas and flavoured water

Aim to drink at least six times a day, and more in warmer weather. Tea, coffee, mineral water, soda water and reduced fat milk can all count towards your fluid intake during the day, but water is always best.

Try not to overdo it in the heat – if you need additional support during the hotter months, just let us know, as we’re here to help.

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