The human body is over fifty percent water and staying well-hydrated is important to maintaining what is called ‘fluid balance’. Drinking an adequate amount of fluid each day is important at any age but it often needs to be a special focus for the older individual to avoid becoming dehydrated. The first “problem” is that as the body ages its “stored” fluid level decreases as compared to that of a younger person. Besides an aging body, other interferences for staying well-hydrated in the senior years include issues such as:
- A diminished sense of being thirsty
- The aging of the kidneys which impacts the body’s ability to conserve water
- Fear of incontinence so fluid consumption is avoided
- Being bed / chair bound making the task of accessing beverages without assistance more difficult, if not impossible
- Having swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) such that drinking is painful or requires beverages to be thickened
- Medications and how they affect body systems
The list of challenges for staying well-hydrated with age can be a long one! The good news is that there are many ways to add fluid to each meal besides only beverages.
While water is preferred for promoting hydration anything ‘wet’ counts. The usual hot and cold beverages like coffee, tea, and juices are all easy ways to take in fluid. But keep in mind that many other foods and recipes can count too and some will be less filling (and more fun) than consuming an ordinary beverage. Fruits and vegetables, broth type soup, gelatins, ice cream, and smoothies are just a few examples of what can contribute to the day’s fluid intake.