Beat the heat: Vital summer hydration tips for older adults

Nov 09, 2023
Source: Getty Images.

As the sweltering heat of summer approaches, it’s essential to remember that staying hydrated is of paramount significance, particularly as we get older. The ageing process introduces unique challenges that can compromise hydration levels, making it absolutely imperative to address this issue.

It’s common knowledge that as we get older we are more prone to heat stress than our younger counterparts, and there are good reasons for this. Firstly, as we age, our bodies become less adept at adapting to temperature changes, leaving us more vulnerable to the scorching summer heat. Secondly, many of us take medications that can make us sweat more, further compounding the issue.

Given these factors, it’s crucial to maintain hydration levels, not only for our comfort but for also to maintain our overall health. By doing so, we are better prepared to fend off the potential dangers of heat stress and fully enjoy the pleasures of summer.

Join Starts at 60 as we delve into the reasons why proper hydration is of critical importance while offering effective strategies to help remain cool, comfortable, and well-hydrated this summer.

The dangers of dehydration

Dehydration is more than just feeling a little parched. For seniors, the consequences of inadequate hydration can be severe. Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential risks:

Heat-related illnesses: Older adults are particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, both of which can be life-threatening if not promptly addressed. Dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms and complications associated with these conditions.

Kidney problems: Dehydration can lead to kidney stones and urinary tract infections, which are painful and can require medical intervention.

Cognitive impairment: Chronic dehydration may contribute to cognitive decline in seniors, leading to problems with memory, attention, and decision-making.

Increased falls risk: Dehydration can lead to dizziness and weakness, increasing the likelihood of falls and fractures.

Medication ineffectiveness: Some medications may become less effective when not taken with enough water. Older adults who are dehydrated may not get the full benefits of their prescribed treatments.

Simple tips for staying hydrated

While the repercussions of dehydration are indeed alarming, it’s equally disconcerting to note the significant number of individuals who fail to ensure they maintain proper hydration levels.

As per a recent consumer survey conducted on Stay Hydrated Day, a staggering 47 per cent of Australians confess to not consuming an adequate amount of water daily. What’s even more concerning, the research commissioned by Hydralyte underscores that 40 per cent of Australians admit to experiencing signs of dehydration either daily or several times a week.

Despite recognising these indicators, one in three individuals acknowledges their lack of proactivity in addressing their hydration needs. Astonishingly, despite 27 per cent of Australians acknowledging the importance of hydration as a top daily health and wellness priority, a substantial 82 per cent fall short of consuming the recommended 8-10 glasses of water daily.

In light of the severe consequences associated with dehydration, especially among older adults, and considering the alarming number of Australians failing to meet their hydration requirements, Starts at 60 spoke with accredited practicing dietitian and nutritionist, Kiah Paetz from Imbodi Health to gain valuable insights into fundamental steps that can be taken to guarantee adequate hydration.

Consistent intake: Drink small amounts of fluids consistently throughout the day, rather than large amounts at once. This can help maintain steady hydration levels.

Flavourful hydration: Sometimes, plain water may not be appealing. Offering naturally flavoured waters using slices of fruits like cucumber, oranges, or berries as well as diet cordials can make the hydration process more enjoyable.

Set reminders: For those who might forget to drink regularly, setting hourly reminders or alarms can be beneficial.

Monitor fluid loss: If you are engaging in any physical activity, it’s essential to replace any fluids you lose. Keeping an eye on how much you sweat can help gauge your hydration needs.

Limit caffeinated and alcoholic drinks: While you might enjoy your morning coffee or occasional glass of wine, it’s essential to balance with plenty of water, as these can act as diuretics.

Check urine colour: A general indicator of hydration is urine colour. Pale yellow is typically a sign of good hydration, while dark yellow or amber might indicate the need for more fluids.

Awareness of medications: Some medications might affect hydration levels or how the body retains water. It’s essential to be aware of these and adjust fluid intake accordingly.

As the mercury continues to rise and the summer season approaches, it is paramount to focus on our hydration needs. By embracing the straightforward yet effective strategies outlined in this article, we can ensure that we not only savour the sunny days but also remain safe and consistently well-hydrated.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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