6 Steps for Avoiding Dehydration
Older adults face unique challenges when it comes to staying safe during the hot days of summer. These challenges range from health conditions that increase sun sensitivity to more fragile skin. They can put an older adult at higher risk for heat-related illnesses such as sun poisoning and heat stroke.
It’s important for seniors and family caregivers to take steps to avoid dehydration, especially during the dog days of July and August.
Here are a few preventive measures that promote healthier hydration for older adults.
6 Ways to Prevent Dehydration
1. Maximize fluid intake
Drinking eight to ten glasses of water each day during the summer is important. It’s advice most people know they should follow, but don’t always do. If the taste of water isn’t appealing to you, foods with a high water content can help you stay hydrated. Popsicles, melon, apples, pears, pineapple, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and leafy greens are a few foods to include in your diet all year round.
2. Limit alcohol consumption
Summer is a season for outdoor celebrations. Many of these parties include alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, alcohol contributes to dehydration. When outdoors in the summer sun, seniors should limit alcoholic beverages or avoid them completely.
3. Avoid caffeinated beverages
Caffeine is a diuretic. This means when you indulge in sodas, iced coffee drinks, and energy drinks, fluids pass through your system faster. That can contribute to dehydration. Stick to water with lemon or lime slices or other noncaffeinated beverages.
4. Monitor medication side effects
Some people aren’t aware that medications may increase sun sensitivity. If a medication you or your loved one takes has that as a potential side effect, it means you are at higher risk for sunburn, hives, rashes, and dehydration. Review your medications to see if sun sensitivity is listed as a side effect and learn more if it is.
5. Schedule outdoor time wisely
Try to limit the time you or the senior you are a caregiver for spends outdoors. Stick with the coolest times of day, which are generally before 10:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m.
6. Wear a hat
While many seniors might not consider themselves hat people, wearing a lightweight hat with a brim at least three inches wide is another hydration safety tip. It shades the face and neck, helping to keep you or your senior loved one cooler.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Dehydration
Finally, we suggest familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of dehydration in an older adult. From confusion to irritability, the signs aren’t always obvious. Recognizing when you or a loved one is in the early stages of dehydration can help you get treatment before a more serious health crisis occurs.