Dehydration is a form of malnutrition that can be over looked. Many older adults do not meet their daily fluid requirements. There are many physiologic changes related to aging that increase your risk of dehydration. These include dysphagia, decreased kidney function, decreased thirst sensation, changes in mental status, and decreased mobility. Some older adults also fear incontinence or desire to avoid frequent trips to the bathroom due to pain. Medications can also contribute to dehydration. Most common are those used to treat hypertension, as they often work as a diuretic causing increased fluid loss. Dehydration can lead to constipation, electrolyte imbalances, kidney damage, and in some cases even death.
Tips for avoiding dehydration.
- Sip on water or other fluids throughout the day.
- Eat foods with high water content like fruits and vegetables.
- Drink fluids before and after exercise or yard work.
- Be sure to drink fluids with your meals.
- If you find drinking plain water difficult, try flavored waters or adding sliced lemons or fruit.
- Keep a reusable bottle for water in your purse or car.
- Limit exercise or yard work to early morning or evening during the hot summer months.
Assessing your hydration status is not always easy, but monitoring your urine volume and color can be helpful. Urine should be a light straw-like yellow. Dark urine can mean you are dehydrated. Also, if you’re urinating less frequent than normal, you may be dehydrated. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about how much fluid you should be taking in daily. Persons with certain medical conditions such as chronic heart failure or end stage renal disease may need to limit their fluid intake.
If you suffer from dysphagia, Hormel Health Labs offers a number of ready to serve beverages that makes it easy to stay hydrated throughout the day. Our assortment of beverages includes orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, HYDROLYTE® thickened water with electrolytes and flavored with lemon, kiwi-strawberry drink, iced tea and prune drink. All of these products are available online for home delivery at www.HomeCareNutrition.com.
Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Food and Nutrition for Older Adults: Promoting Health and Wellness. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112:1255-1277.
Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition. Nutrition Care Manual®. http://www.nutritioncaremanual.org.
Mara Lee Beebe, MS, RD, LD, CNSC is registered dietitian who is passionate about nutrition and promoting health and wellness. She currently works as clinical dietitian at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Mara Lee specializes in caring for oncology and gastrointestinal surgery patients. Mara Lee works with patients to optimize their nutrition and overcome malnutrition before, during, and after cancer treatment or surgery.
Mara Lee graduated from Ashland University with a Bachelors of Science. She went on to receive her Masters in Nutrition from Bowling Green State University, where she also completed her dietetic internship. Mara Lee is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Society for Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition.
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