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Staying Hydrated....Fluid For Thought

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

How to stay hydrated and healthy this summer.

Dehydration is a leading cause of hospital admissions in older adults and a recent study found that approximately 40% of older adults are chronically under-hydrated (Mentes et al., 2019). The side effects of being dehydrated can range from mild symptoms like irritability and fatigue to serious conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs), sepsis, delirium, and kidney failure.

"You only need to be 1% dehydrated to experience a 5% decrease in cognitive function.... Prolonged dehydration causes brain cells to shrink in size and mass, a condition common in many elderly who have been dehydrated for years." - Dr. Fayaz

Several factors place older adults at an increased risk for dehydration including:

  1. Reduced thirst and appetite (you don't feel thirsty or hungry).

  2. Reduced body temperature control.

  3. Body composition changes as we age, and older adults have less water in their body composition.

  4. Medications and medical conditions can impact your ability to stay hydrated.

The good news is that there are

things you can do to stay hydrated and healthy.

The National Council on Aging recommends drinking 1/3 of your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 lbs. - you would drink 50 ounces. These recommendations are general guidelines and can vary depending on your health status and medications. The chart below can be used as a guide to determine how hydrated you are. Make sure to check with your physician to determine how much water you need to stay hydrated.

Check out these tips to stay hydrated and healthy:

The Power of Fancy Water

Some people do not like how water tastes and other people report that medications change how things taste. And let's face it...water can be boring. "Fancy water" is simply adding fruit combinations to your water to create fun flavor combinations. My favorite is strawberry lime. Fancy water can be made with fresh or frozen fruit and the combinations are endless. Check out this document below that provides recipes for different fruit-infused waters.

Download PDF • 459KB

"“reluctant drinkers” consumed 159% more water when flavor was added." - Journal of Psychology and Behavior

The Right Container Matters

There are many things to consider when purchasing a water bottle. Many water bottles can be pricy, and it is important to choose one that fits your needs. Check out this water bottle recourse guide with my top picks!

Water Bottle Guide
Download PDF • 1.16MB

Eat Water Rich Foods

You don't have to only drink your fluid. Many fruits and vegetables have high water content. Check out this link for data on fruits with high water content. Popsicles are also a great way to get some extra fluid during these hot St. Louis summers.

Make Hydration Part of Your Routine

If you don't like the taste of water or if you don't feel thirsty it can be hard to drink enough to stay properly hydrated. Developing a routine of drinking water can become a habit. Make sure that you use the tips above to make sure that drinking fluid is tasty and easy. That will make creating a habit easier. Try drinking more water earlier in the morning so it doesn't keep you up at night running to the bathroom.

Also try:

  1. Drinking a whole glass of water with your morning medications.

  2. Drinking a glass of water before meals.

  3. Drinking water before exercise.

  4. Having afternoon tea or fancy water with friends.

  5. Set a water/fluid goal for the day and reward yourself.

Reap the Health Benefits of Proper Hydration

Now that you have taken the steps to stay hydrated you can enjoy the many health benefits of proper hydration including:

  1. Lubricate and cushion joints

  2. Improved mood

  3. Improved sleep

  4. Improved mental function

  5. Improved energy

"You’ll be able to think faster, focus more clearly and experience greater clarity when your brain is functioning on a full reserve of water." - Dr. Fayaz

In closing

Staying properly hydrated is even more important in the heat. The summers in St. Louis can be steamy and you can become dehydrated extremely quickly in the summer heat. Please make sure to talk to your doctor to find out how much water you need to stay healthy. If you are concerned about being able to stay cool, please contact Cool Down St. Louis at (314) 241-7668

I hope everyone is able to stay cool and enjoy the summer!

Jenny Williams, OT


Mentes, J.C., DeVost, M.A., and Nandy, K. (2019). Salivary osmolality, function, and hydration habits in community-dwelling older adults. Open Nursing, 5. https:/doi: 10.1177/237796819826253

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