2012-08-01 / Health

Seniors: Do you drink enough water?

Over the course of an average day, most people brush their teeth once or twice, visit the bathroom several times and eat a few meals without much thought. But studies show that many of us forget one important thing: to drink a few glasses of water.

The human body depends on water to help fuel its organs, aide digestion, avoid constipation, regulate body temperature and assist with tissue development. You lose a portion of this water every day, through your skin, breath, urine and feces.When you fail to replenish the necessary supply, you not only experience discomfort, but you also miss out on several health benefits that ample water intake can provide.

Seniors are more likely to fall victim to dehydration because thirst declines with age. It’s important, especially during this time of year when the temperature and humidity rise causing fluid loss through perspiration, that older adults drink plenty of water whether they feel thirsty or not. Older adults also run a higher risk for dehydration due to medications which may dry out the body, or simply because they may avoid drinking “too much” to reduce trips to the restroom.

Barnabas Health Home Health Care and Hospice and Palliative Care Centers offer the following tips to seniors to avoid dehydration during the summer months. Please note, Barnabas Health urges individuals to discuss fluid intake with his/her primary care physician before chaining daily habits.

• Eight is great. Each day set a goal to drink, at least, eight glasses of fluid.

• Don’t limit yourself. Water can come from any beverage — juice, coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks and even soup. However, it is important to be cautious. Caffeine in coffee, soft drinks and tea actually boosts your body’s water output, offsetting some of the benefits of taking in the fluid. Also, the sugar in regular soft drinks may pose a danger to diabetics or to those who are watching their weight. • Get creative. For those who want to try something a little different, fruit juice mixed with club soda or seltzer water makes a refreshing carbonated drink.And, a twist of lemon or lime will make plain water more appealing.

What if I drink too much water?

With the exception of those who suffer from hyperthyroidism, renal failure, or congestive heart failure, no one has to worry about consuming too much water. However, we do have to worry if we don’t take in enough. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke, asthma, dental disease and several gastrointestinal problems may result from insufficient hydration. Every person runs these risks, but older people must be particularly mindful. Please note, that individuals who suffer from heart disease or renal failure should consult their physician regarding recommended fluid intake.

How do I know if my body is lacking fluids?

Your body provides some built-in safety measures to alert you when your water level has dipped too low.When water loss hits 1 percent of your body weight, you may experience symptoms of mild dehydration, such as headache, lightheadedness and dulled thinking. Thirstkicksinaftera2percentloss.At4 percent or more, severe dehydration sends your blood volume and blood pressure plunging and may even lead to muscle spasms, dimmed vision, delirium, fainting or a heart attack. If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

The Barnabas Health Home Health Care Agencies, which support local affiliates Community Medical Center Home Health and Community Kare, both located in Toms River, and JerseryCare Home Health and Medical Center Health Care Services, both located in West Orange, offer a wide variety of health care services in the comfortable environment of one’s home. For more information, visit www.homehealthnj.com.

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