By Al Brandenburg
The triple digits are upon us and the summer forecast promises more scorching temperatures. The extreme heat underscores the need for seniors to consume enough liquids. As we age, our bodies contain less water, partly because our kidneys become less
efficient. At birth, we are about 75 percent water, but an elderly body is about 50 percent
water, according to experts cited by NPR.org.
Based on Nutrition and Healthy Aging studies, seniors drink less water on average than younger people because of a weakened sense of thirst. They don’t always realize when they need to drink something. What’s worse, it’s often not recognized in seniors until they become very ill and, in some cases, hospitalized.
Watch for the signs of dehydration in your loved ones. They include headaches, cramping in the limbs and confusion. In addition, dark yellow or brown urine, joint pain, and fatigue
and weakness also indicate something is wrong.
Mild dehydration can be treated by taking more fluids by mouth. It’s best to drink something with electrolytes, such a rehydration solution, a sports drink, juice or even bouillon.
In most cases, just drinking water will help. When dehydration advances to a more critical
stage, immediate attention is required for severe symptoms such as convulsions, severe muscle contractions, rapid breathing and weak pulse rate.
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD YOU DRINK EVERY DAY
Although the normal level of hydration can vary from person to person, many medical experts recommend this formula:
• Take your weight in pounds and divide by three. That’s the number of ounces you should drink daily. For example, a 150-pound person would need 50 ounces of water daily, or
about six 8-ounce glasses of water.
• Discuss with your doctor factors affecting how much water you require, including medications, body weight and activity level. Check out apps, such as Hydro Coach or
WaterMinder, that track the number of drinks you consume in a day or notify you when it’s time for a drink.
• Bottom line: Drink liquids often.
Al Brandenburg is a member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.
This column appears in the June issue of InMaricopa magazine.