Summer brings to mind days on the beach, lazy days by the pool, picnics with family and friends and lots of time in the sun. With all these outdoor activities, we need to make sure we drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke!
Staying well hydrated is important for everyone but especially important for seniors. Seniors have a harder time conserving water making it more difficult to adapt to things like fluctuating temperatures. Our sense of thirst diminishes over time so it is important to drink fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Medical conditions can also affect one’s ability to retain fluids. People with dementia can forget to eat. People with neurological conditions can have difficulty swallowing. Some medications can cause frequent urination leading to dehydration if the fluids are not replaced. People with incontinence will often refuse fluids to avoid having accidents.
Signs of severe dehydration include decreased urination, dark colored urine, new or increased confusion, rapid breathing and a weak pulse. If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms, contact emergency medical professionals. While waiting for them to arrive, have the person rest in a shaded area and use cool compresses.
The best way to avoid dehydration is to be proactive and get plenty of fluids throughout the day. Water is the best choice but other liquids count toward your daily fluid intake as well. Have a cup of water or your favorite beverage next to your chair so you can have a drink without getting up.
Fresh fruits and vegetables can also provide hydration. Cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, grapes and cantaloupe are all at least 90 percent water and taste good too!