Keeping Taking the Water
Water is among the most important elements for the maintenance of life. It is used in the body for transporting nutrients and wastes, regulating temperature, maintaining the structure of tissues, and supporting cell functions (including brain function). Water is vital for digestion, regulation of body temperature, elimination of waste products and lubrication of joints and eyes. Generally, healthy adults are advised to consume between 2 and 3 litres of water per day in order to maintain good levels of hydration, counteracting fluid loss through perspiration and body waste.
One of the key triggers for most people to prompt the need for a drink is simply that they feel thirsty. As we age, these thirst triggers begin to diminish so we don’t always feel thirsty even though our body may be running low on fluids.
We take in water through drinks but also in the food that we eat. Therefore, as we age and our appetite starts to reduce, our ability to take on board liquids through our meals also reduces.
Additionally, some of the medication prescribed to elderly people can have a diuretic impact on those who take them, leading to further potential fluid loss.
The effects of dehydration can be severe. Dehydration has been identified as one of the risk factors for falls in the elderly. Dehydration can lead to deterioration in mental state resulting in dizziness and fainting. It can be a major factor in accelerating the deterioration in a person’s health when they have bouts of sickness which cause high levels of fluid loss.
Please therefore take the trouble to ensure that there are always plenty of fluids readily to hand, particularly for the vulnerable, the very young and the very old.
Increasing quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables in the daily diet also helps increase fluid intake as these items typically have over 70% water in them (tomatoes and water melon contain over 90% water).
Encourage those taking medication to drink a full glass of water with their tablets or medicine.
Remember, milk shakes, soup, iced lollies and sorbets are also fluids so you can be imaginative in finding ways to increase your fluid intake.
As the summer temperatures start to rise, we all lose more fluids through perspiration so having the means to top up our tanks regularly throughout the day is really important.
Philip Keohane is owner & director of Home Instead Senior Care in Reading