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Getting the Right Amount of H2O: Common Concerns for Seniors

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Getting the Right Amount of H2O: Common Concerns for Seniors

Attaining the optimal level of hydration can be a concern for seniors. Taking in enough water daily to avoid dehydration while not drinking too much and causing or aggravating other health issues can be more difficult than it sounds.

Still stuck on the conventional wisdom that you absolutely must drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day to remain properly hydrated? Recent findings may surprise you. Read on to learn more about how much you should be drinking, what to do to stay hyrdrated and how to avoid overhydration.

How much water do you truly need?

For decades, healthcare professionals and laymen alike have preached on the necessity of intaking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each and every day, under the threat of dehydration if you don’t meet this goal. Other conventional wisdom would have you believe that unless you’re expressing clear urine, you’re already dehydrated.

The truth is that there is not one optimal number of ounces of water needed per day — every person has different needs, dictated by your own health, activity level and environmental exposures. And healthy urine can range in hue from nearly colorless to much brighter shades of yellow. As long as your urine isn’t orange, red or cloudy, in fact, it isn’t a reliable indicator of dehydration.

WebMD, reporting on a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shares that seniors shouldn’t force themselves to consume extra water simply to meet what now seems to be a baseless baseline. In fact, they recommend only increasing water intake when you “are feeling hot or feverish.” That’s a far more commonsense approach than making yourself sick just to finish a certain number of cups of water daily.

What can you do to maintain healthy water intake?

Our elevation here in Thornton, Colorado, is just over 5300 feet — that means we’re at a fairly high altitude compared to other areas of the state and country. So, you may, indeed, need more water than if you lived in lower altitudes. While you may not need those eight full glasses, you’ll still need to work to stay hydrated. If the thought of downing glass after glass of water boggles your mind, consider some of these tips, offered by the National Institute on Aging.

  • Instead of trying to down a lot of water all at one time, spread your consumption throughout the day. Enjoy glasses with your meals and in between times when you’re relaxing, watching TV or strolling through the grounds.
  • You can maintain adequate hydration through various liquids, not just water. Consider sipping a low-sodium broth, milk or low-sugar juices or adding flavoring to the water you consume.
  • If you exert yourself, drink extra liquids as your thirst level demands. If you find that your sense of thirst has become impaired as you’ve aged, just keep sipping at water at a moderate pace as you exercise.
  • Remember to limit your alcohol intake — and add a bit extra nonalcoholic liquid to counter any alcohol you consume as well.

How do you avoid overhydration?

If you suffer from heart issues or liver or kidney disease, you may need to carefully limit your intake of water and other liquids. Too much intake can lead to increased water retention and further medical complications. At your next medical checkup, or while chatting with healthcare personnel here at the Park Regency, ask for personalized advice on how much water and other liquids you specifically need to consume daily.

The medication you take and the interaction of your medical conditions can dictate an amount far lower than you think you need. And if you’re diabetic, keep in mind that extreme thirst may in fact be an indication that your blood sugars are out of whack — not that you’re becoming dehydrated. Staying on top of your testing and maintaining frequent contact with your doctor can ensure you’re not overhydrating and that you maintain safe levels of liquid intake.