Ageing is inevitable, and it seems that on a daily basis we’re faced with more and more news stories that aim to tell us what superfoods will keep us young or which food combinations are the baddies that will make us ill and so on. Truth is, it’s simply about eating and drinking all things in moderation.
Photo: Mike Kenneally
One thing is sure though, many of us don’t take on board the correct amount of fluids we need to keep us hydrated and one group that often gets overlooked with this advice are seniors.
As we age, we lose water from our bodies. It’s estimated that by the time we reach 65 the percentage of body weight made up of water falls from about 60% in adults to about 50% in the elderly. Therefore, it becomes more important any fluids lost are replaced regularly.
Hydration for Seniors
Keeping well hydrated forms the basis of an overall balanced approach to healthy living as you age, you can drink all the water you like, but if it’s not coupled with a sensible diet you’re undoing a lot of the hard work you’ve started.
The physical signs of dehydration are generally the same for everyone. However, in seniors, they may present more severely, even if only mild dehydration has occurred.
You can check to see if you’re dehydrated by doing the following simple test:
Pinch a small amount of skin on the back of your hand and lightly pull it up. If it springs back straight away you’re hydrated, if the skin takes a long time to fall back, it could be a sign you need to drink more water.
Other signs include:
- Inability to pass urine
What can you do?
It sounds so simple, but many people forget. Always keep a bottle of water by your side and have it filled during the day. Some people find flavoured waters more pleasant to drink, but sipping constantly through the course of the day is much better than drinking a huge glass of water in one go. This is especially important for seniors who may not always remember to drink regularly. If the water is by their side they are more likely to drink it than not. Other beverages do count, even tea and coffee, but as caffeine does have a slightly diuretic effect, it's better to intersperse these drinks with water too.
Remember that eating fresh fruit and vegetables (and salads now we’re heading into spring and summer) count for around 20% of the body’s hydration needs during the day. Super hydrating food choices are cucumbers, melon, strawberries and spinach. All of these will count towards your target – and is there anything nicer than a slice of ice cold watermelon on a hot day to cool you down and refresh you?
Jess Walter, Freelance Writer