If there is one question that Floridians used to hearing from their doctor, it is “Are you drinking enough water?” I’m often reminding my patients of the importance of hydration. It goes beyond beating the heat; seniors are far more likely to experience health problems when they are not getting enough fluids.
Four reasons why we need to drink more fluids as we age:
- Older people are more likely to have certain medical problems that can cause dehydration, such as influenza, digestive problems, and high blood sugar.
- Many seniors take medications for high blood pressure, heart disease, or kidney and liver problems; these medications are often diuretics and cause an increase in fluid loss.
- As we get older, our kidneys start to decline and become less sensitive to anti-diuretic hormone, which helps conserve the water in our bodies by reducing the loss of water in our urine. So, when our body isn’t responding like it should to the hormone, we lose more water.
- Knowing whether we are thirsty declines as we age. This is because the part of the brain that tells us when we’re thirsty becomes less active. Seniors aren’t able to accurately determine their level of dehydration because of this decline.
The best way to prevent dehydration is by staying proactive. Carry a water bottle, avoid prolonged exposure to direct sun, and track your water intake. Most importantly, talk to your doctor right away if you are concerned about your health.
Carol Clark is the newly promoted Director of Outpatient Services at Shell Point Retirement Community, and cares for residents at the J. Howard Medical Center and The Larsen Pavilion skilled nursing center.