Do you consistently come up short on your water intake? You're not alone. Up to 40% of older adults could be chronically underhydrated. Knowing how much water to drink can also be confusing, with different recommendations coming from different sources. Learn more about how you can stay hydrated.
Water is important to everyone, and it's not just because it quenches your thirst. Water plays a role in most functions your body performs, including keeping your joints lubricated and your heart pumping blood efficiently. As you get older, you might have issues in those areas anyway. Drinking plenty of water can help support those functions.
Everyone needs to make sure they get enough water, but hydration can be more of an issue for older adults due to specific characteristics. Many seniors notice a decrease in thirst and hunger, which could cause them to eat and drink less than they need. Some of the medications seniors take can also increase the risk of dehydration.
Water intake guidelines vary based on where you get them from. The National Council on Aging suggests drinking a third of your body weight in ounces. That means a 180-pound person should drink about 60 ounces daily, while a 240-pound person should drink about 80 ounces.
However, several factors can go into how much water you need. For example, you might need more water if you sweat profusely, take diuretics or have certain health conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Talk to your doctor for personalized recommendations on water intake. Your care provider has your medical history and can identify medical conditions or prescriptions that might change your intake needs.
No matter which number you use to calculate your target water intake, it's not always easy to reach your goals. These tips can make it easier to drink enough water to keep you hydrated.
Whether you're reading a book in your living room or enjoying nature, keep cold water nearby. A reusable water bottle that's easy to carry along with you is ideal. Fill it up before you head out for any reason. You can also use it to hydrate at home. It's a simple way to track how much water you're drinking.
If you feel water is boring, that could contribute to your low water intake. Adding a little flavor to your water could encourage you to drink more. An easy option is to toss in some freshly cut fruit or veggies to lightly flavor your water without adding unhealthy ingredients. You can get infusion pitchers and water bottles with baskets to hold the fruit.
You can also find a variety of flavoring drops to add to water. Some options include electrolytes to help you hydrate faster. Read the ingredients label to check the sugar content, calories and other details to make sure it's a healthy option.
Setting alarms or reminders on your phone can be helpful if you forget to sip your water throughout the day. You can download various water-tracking apps that help you monitor your progress toward your goals. Many of them have alerts or reminders that pop up on your phone and remind you to drink more water.
Many fruits and veggies have a high water content, which makes them an alternative source of hydration. Some of the options with the most water include leafy greens, melons, strawberries, cucumbers and celery. Prepare these foods and keep them in your fridge, where they're easy to munch on when you need a snack.
Get in the habit of drinking water at certain points in the day. You might drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up and more before each meal. When you take your medication, wash it down with a glass or two of water. Connecting it to parts of your daily routine makes water consumption a habit that doesn't require reminders.
Because your water needs can vary, paying attention to your body could be a better way to gauge your water intake. Your urine color is a quick way to check on how well you're hydrating. If it's dark, it's time to drink more water. If it's lighter yellow or clear, you're keeping up on your hydration. Other signs of dehydration include:
If you notice mild symptoms of dehydration, grab yourself a glass of cold water and start sipping. If your dehydration gets worse, you might experience increasingly severe symptoms. This might include no urine output, rapid heartbeat, confusion and fainting. If your dehydration becomes severe, you may need to seek medical attention to rehydrate quickly and safely.
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