How do you feel when you’re dehydrated? Some people will immediately notice the tell-tale signs – headaches, dry lips, a dry mouth, tiredness – but others, for any number of reasons, will not. It could be that you’re so used to being dehydrated that you no longer pay attention to the signals, or it could be that you have so much else going on that you don’t have time to think about how thirsty you’re feeling.
Hydration as we age
As we get older, hydration is just as important as ever but is often harder to achieve. Our bodies aren’t always as adaptable as they once were, and we’re even less likely to notice the signals that they’re sending us.
On top of that, it’s often physically more difficult for older people to drink and stay hydrated. For some, getting to the kitchen to prepare a drink is a difficult and time-consuming task. For others, even lifting a cup can be a challenge.
We also have to remember that many older people don’t like water, which has become more popular in the last couple of decades. In this case cordial or sliced fruit can be added to make it more appealing.
How to stay hydrated
As a very rough guide, aim to drink approximately two litres of water per day. Each individual has different needs, so this figure might be a little high or a little low for you. What you’ll probably find, however, is that you’ll feel thirstier as you begin to drink more. This is because your previously dehydrated body is now getting used to being properly hydrated.
You can buy specialist equipment to help you or a loved one to stay hydrated, such as the Hydrant Drinking System which features a long and flexible straw, an easy to hold handle and clips for fixing the bottle to a bed or chair and the straw to your clothes.
Reminding yourself to drink
Being physically able to drink, whether you need specialist equipment or not, is only part of the battle. The other issue is that you need to actually remember to drink, which is often much harder than it sounds and made worse by the increasing number of people living with dementia.
Cues are important, whether they come in the form of regular alarms set on a mobile phone or in the form of post-it notes that are stuck around the house. You can remind yourself or a loved one to drink by putting a cup of fresh water/cordial in each room, if you have the energy to do so at the start of the day. Sometimes older people find a water bottle near where they sit a useful reminder. The important thing is finding a way that works for you, so that you or your elderly loved one can be reminded to drink as you go about your day.
The health benefits
Dehydration can lead to a wide range of issues from minor ones such as memory problems and concentration problems to more serious conditions such as kidney stones, joint pain, muscle damage and cholesterol problems.
By drinking enough to stay properly hydrated, you’re providing your body with the important water that it needs to stay healthy, active and as pain-free as possible throughout your retirement years.
If you or someone you know is struggling to drink enough for whatever reason then a visit to the GP might help you to find a solution. Before this, see if tools such as the Hydrant Drinking System or a simple pack of post-it notes could be all that you need to get your drinking habits back on track.
Mobility Smart an online store stocking products to make life easier for those with mobility difficulties and for the older generation requiring living aids and specialist equipment.