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Importance of Staying Hydrated

Our bodies are made up of more than sixty percent (60%) water.  Because we have so much water in our bodies, keeping it there and staying hydrated is very important. By staying hydrated, we can help ensure that our bodies function properly. We need to maintain a fluid balance in our bodies, meaning we need to take in enough fluid each day to balance what we lose through activities such as urinating, sweating and breathing.

As we get older, staying hydrated becomes more and more important.  With age, the amount of water in the body decreases or becomes less.  This means that the elderly need to put more water into their bodies.  As we grow older, we also start to lose the sensation of feeling thirsty, meaning we can’t tell that our bodies need water.

 

When you are working with elderly patients or residents, you may notice that they have problems with swallowing, or they can’t communicate to you that they are thirsty.  They may also take medicine that makes them lose water or fluids. All of these problems can lead to an elderly patient or resident becoming dehydrated, and dehydration can lead to hospitalization, infection, or even death in some severe cases.  

There are some symptoms of dehydration you can watch for in your elderly patients or residents:  

  • the color and amount of urine – dark urine or no urine output can indicate dehydration

  • sunken eyes – this is when the eyes look deep set or curved inward

  • dry skin

  • dry mouth

  • fatigue

  • low blood pressure

You can give your patients and resident tips to help them stay hydrated:

  • Drink small amounts of water throughout the day

  • Keep favorite healthy beverages nearby

  • Drink water or fluids with every meal

  • Avoid drinking coffee, tea, or alcohol

  • Eat foods that have a lot of water such as soup, fresh fruits, and vegetables

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners