Keeping hydrated is extremely important for your health regardless of your age. Our bodies comprise 60-75% of water, so it makes sense that we need to consume it regularly in order to function.
Unfortunately, keeping hydrated is also one of those things that often get overlooked. It may be difficult to keep up with, but it’s a necessary chore if you care about your health and wellbeing. As daunting as it may be, staying hydrated helps you look and feel better in the long run.
In this article, we’ll cover what happens when you don’t stay hydrated, how much liquid intake you need in order to maintain hydration and ways you can stay hydrated too.
What Happens When You’re Dehydrated?
Essentially, dehydration occurs when your body is releasing more water than it’s taking in. Usually, the issue can be fixed by simply drinking more fluids. However, the situation may be dire enough to need to seek medical help. Those with chronic diseases are more susceptible to dehydration than others. For people with dementia specifically, keeping them properly hydrating can be enormously difficult.
Water is the most essential consumable we need in order for our body to function properly. It also serves as a lubricant to our joints and eyes and keeps our skin healthy too. Even if the level of water in our system drops the slightest bit, we can feel the repercussions happening. Dizziness, dry mouth, the feeling of thirst, and other side effects happen when you aren’t getting enough water.
If you’re dehydrated for a longer period of time, you may experience constipation, urinary tract infections, or kidney stones. A good indicator of dehydration is also uncharacteristically dark urine. If you’re severely dehydrated, you may have low blood pressure, shriveled and dry skin, or you may even fall unconscious.
How Much Do You Need?
Water levels change as you age. While your water levels are higher as a newborn, they’re very low once you reach senior status. In general, fully grown adults should try to consume between 8-10 cups of water each day. Your necessary fluid intake may also be impacted by your location and physical activity.
The more active you are, the more you’ll need to replenish your fluids. Also, those who live in the mountains tend to need more fluids than those who don’t. Because senior citizens are far more likely to suffer from dehydration, it’s especially important to follow set guidelines for recommended water intake. For those in long-term care settings, it’s important to talk to caregivers about making sure your loved one is hydrated.
How to Stay Hydrated
Just because you don’t feel thirsty doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t need water. By the time you feel that sensation of thirst in your mouth, your body is already dehydrated. It’s also important to note that just because you drank until that thirsty feeling went away, doesn’t mean that you aren’t dehydrated anymore.
The easiest way to tell if you’re getting enough fluids is if your urine is a pale straw color. One of the most common concerns about getting enough fluids is that a person just doesn’t like the taste of water. If that’s the case, here are some helpful ways to still get in the recommended amount of fluids each day:
- Drink other beverages. While water is the generally preferred method of hydration, you can consume milk or tea just the same. Juice is a viable option too as long as it isn’t overloaded with sugar. You may even choose to opt for flavored drink packets too if you just don’t enjoy water.
- Eat water-filled fruits and veggies. Many fruits and vegetables have high water content. On top of that, they make great snacks too. This way, you’re getting necessary vitamins and minerals while also getting your daily water intake too. Good vegetables for this are celery, peppers, cucumbers, or anything else that tastes watery while you eat it.
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Always aim to get the recommended amount of water throughout the day. This means drinking even when you don’t feel thirsty. Just because you don’t have the thirst feelings doesn’t mean it’s not there.
- Flavor your water. Use flavor packets to enhance the flavor if you don’t like the taste of plain water. If you’re diabetic, it’s important to make sure you buy sugar-free packets to avoid added health complications.
- Stay inside when it’s hot. To avoid losing water to sweat, it’s best to stay indoors on particularly hot days. If you don’t want to stay cooped up all day, it’s best to stay inside from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you do end up going outside, take some sort of cool beverage with you to keep up with fluid loss.
- Dress for the weather. If it’s really hot outside, don’t wear clothing that is too thick or has too many layers. If you’re wearing extra layers when it’s hot, your body will go into overdrive trying to cool itself down.