Water and Senior Citizens
As we age, the balance between our need for water
and our thirst for water shifts. In fact, the less water an older
person drinks, the less thirsty they become, leaving them open
to the risk of serious dehydration and other complications.
Further, confusion over the difference between
hunger and thirst intensifies over the years, making it all the
more important to conscientiously drink adequate amounts of water
throughout the day. At the very minimum, one should consume one
cup of water for every 20 pounds of body weight daily, that’s
around 6-8 glasses for the average person.
Exercise and warm weather both call for additional
water intake to replace fluids lost through excessive perspiration.
So, all those senior citizens who head south for retirement will
need to increase water intake! Increased fibre intake among seniors,
which is usually recommended for older people to aid with constipation
and other health concerns, also increases the need for water.
The human body is at least 75% water, of which
2-3 quarts are lost on a daily basis. Even bones are over 20%
water! Aside from replenishing what is lost in order to hydrate
the blood and tissues, water also lubricates joints, regulates
temperature, and moistens the lungs to allow for breathing. Inadequate
water intake over time prevents these processes from occurring,
leading to arthritis, sore muscles, heavy breathing, and a higher
body temperature. This means that not drinking enough water over
time can result in more severe effects at an older age, which
means preventable problems during what should be the golden years.
Senior citizens are at particular risk for dehydration
because their kidney function has diminished to some degree.
Symptoms of dehydration, which can cause death in extreme circumstances,
include confusion, drowsiness, laboured speech, dry mouth, and
sunken eyeballs. Side effects for seniors who do not drink enough
water, however, extend far beyond dehydration. Even short-term
water deprivation has been known to cause chronic pain. Over
time, lack of water causes loss of muscle tone, excess weight
gain, slow metabolism, increased toxicity, and even organ failure.
Other negative effects include arthritis, dry skin, migraines,
hypertension, digestive complications, and persistent constipation.
In order to maintain health, the kidneys must
excrete a minimum of ten ounces of waste per day. When water
is not available, there is nothing present in which to dissolve
the body’s waste products (uric acid and urea) for expulsion.
As a result, they build up within the body, leading to kidney
stones, while putting additional strain on the kidneys to find
adequate liquid with which to expel toxins.
Considering the abundance of water in our daily
lifestyles, the fact that most senior citizens are consistently
dehydrated to some degree is alarming. All foods are partly composed
of water; fruits and vegetables are over 75% H2O, and even bread
is more than 30% water. Yet with the abundance of water in their
diet, the average senior citizen still requires over two-and-a-half
quarts of pure water each and every day to maintain good health.
End of Article
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