The hotter the weather, the more we all need to hydrate. This is easier said than done when it comes to the elderly, especially since heat can reduce appetite and the desire to eat hot foods. Older adults lose water as their muscle mass weakens and their kidney function decreases. They also feel less thirsty than younger people, increasing the danger of dehydration.
Recommended Amount of Fluids
Drinking lots of fluids is the easiest way to stay hydrated. Although water is the healthiest drink, many people will drink much less if that’s all that’s on offer. Tea, juice or flavored waters are a good alternative, but check which sweeteners your senior is allowed. The recommended amount of fluids for adults over 65 is 9 8 oz. glasses a day. It’s especially important to take fluids along whenever you leave the house, even if you’re not outdoors most of the time.
Fruits and Vegetables
Another great way to hydrate is by eating lots of fruits and vegetables. These can be served during meals (think a green salad or Greek yogurt topped with fruit) and as snacks in between meals. Keep a bowl of fruit or a platter of vegetable sticks with dip on hand at all times. Watermelon, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots and grapes are particularly high in water content and should top the list of summer snacks. If raw vegetables are hard for them to eat, steam vegetables until soft.
If your senior is not eating well this season, consider serving cold foods instead of hot ones. Cheese, yogurt, lukewarm grilled chicken and hard-boiled eggs are refreshing and don’t feel heavy in the stomach. Also consider making lunch the main meal, since it can be harder to eat a good meal at the end of a long day when exhaustion sets in.
Other ways to avoid dehydration in the summer include limiting outdoors time, wearing a hat when outsides and using air conditioning or staying in cool areas when indoors. We hope you and the senior you care for have a wonderful summer!