Last Updated: January 29, 2024

On a hot, sunny day in Florida, nothing is better than an ice cold glass of water to quench your thirst. But that’s not all water is good for. Not only is it refreshing, but water is actually essential to almost all of our bodily functions on a daily basis. 

Everyone, including seniors, should prioritize sufficient water intake, especially during the hot summer months. Florida seniors in particular need to make drinking enough water a priority to prevent dehydration and heat stroke. 

Keep reading to learn 9 hydration tips for seniors this summer.

What is dehydration and what causes it?

pouring a pitcher of water

According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration occurs when the body uses or loses more fluid than it takes in, and does not have enough water to carry out its normal functions. 

In normal circumstances, people lose water everyday through sweat, tears, breathing, urine, and more factors. Most healthy people can effectively replenish their water supply by drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods that contain water. However, when someone’s water supply does not get replenished, dehydration will occur.

Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that dehydration can be caused by a number of factors. For example, dehydration is very common in people who are sick with a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting. 

Another cause of dehydration is overexposure to the sun – especially if exercising vigorously – as the body loses water, sodium, and potassium.

Dehydration can also occur with use of certain medications such as diuretics, which deplete body fluids and electrolytes. This specific cause of dehydration is more common in older adults.  

What are the signs of dehydration?

There are many signs and symptoms of dehydration. Some of the more common symptoms of dehydration in adults specifically include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Infrequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Confusion
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • Increased heart rate and breathing rate

What is the treatment for dehydration?

man drinking bottle of water

Dehydration is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if left untreated. No matter the cause, dehydration should be treated by a healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

If caught early, mild dehydration can often be treated at home under the guidance of a medical professional with simple rehydration. This includes drinking liquids such as sports drinks that restore fluids and electrolytes. Moderate to severe dehydration should be treated as a medical emergency and may require an IV.

What is heat stroke and what causes it? 

Heat stroke is a more severe heat illness that develops as the result of prolonged exposure to extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous exercise in the hot sun. 

In normal situations, the human body can cool itself down through sweating and radiating heat through the skin. However, in certain circumstances, the body’s cooling systems can fail. 

When a person is dehydrated and cannot produce enough sweat to lower their body temperature, their body heat can increase to dangerously high levels, causing heat stroke.

Heat stroke develops rapidly and requires immediate medical treatment.

What are the signs of heat stroke?

Some of the more common symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness leading to falling
  • Disorientation, agitation or confusion
  • Fatigue or sluggishness
  • Seizures
  • Hot skin that feels flushed but not sweaty
  • High body temperature
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hallucinations

What is the treatment for heat stroke?

man pouring water on himself to cool off

Heat stroke must be treated immediately, as it is extremely dangerous and can be life-threatening or cause permanent damage. 

First, call 911 right away. While waiting for help to arrive, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends some immediate first-aid measures. These can include:

  • Moving the person to a shaded or cool area
  • Removing excess clothing
  • Applying cool water to the skin followed by fanning
  • Applying ice packs to the groin area and underarms
  • Laying the person down in a cool area and slightly elevating their feet
  • Rapidly cooling the person however possible

Why is dehydration common in seniors?

man drinking water outside

Older adults are more prone to dehydration for numerous reasons. As we age, our body’s fluid reserves get smaller and we have a lessened ability to conserve water. Also, many older adults’ sense of thirst becomes less acute with age, causing them to drink less water in general. 

Chronic illnesses that are common with seniors, such as diabetes and dementia, can increase the likelihood of dehydration, as can the use of certain medications.

Finally, some seniors may have mobility challenges that prevent them from accessing drinking water on their own, leading to lessened water intake.

How much water should a senior drink a day to stay hydrated?

The amount of water someone needs to stay hydrated can vary based on factors such as medical history and medication usage, so it is important to talk to your doctor to determine the exact amount you need. However, as a general rule, you can take one-third of your body weight and aim to drink that number of fluid ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, aim to drink 60 ounces of water per day. 

For reference, a standard glass of water is about 8 fluid ounces.

9 Hydration Tips for Seniors

9 ways seniors can stay hydrated

Dehydration, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses are serious matters, particularly in places with a warm climate like Florida. Below are steps that everyone, especially seniors, can take to prevent these illnesses and stay hydrated during the warm summer months. 

  1. Schedule times to drink water throughout the day, especially when out in the warm sun. For example, make it a habit to drink a glass of water right when you wake up, with meals, before you go outside, and before and after exercise.
  2. If you tend to dislike the taste of plain water, try infusing fruits or vegetables in your water to add flavor without adding sugar. Foods like lemon, cucumber, strawberries, and apples make great additions to water.
  3. If you have trouble drinking enough water, try to eat foods with a high water content at every meal. Some of these foods include watermelon, cucumbers, berries, tomatoes, lettuce, pineapple, grapes, and celery.  
  4. Limit caffeine and alcohol as much as possible. These substances cause the body to lose more water than it can take in. Try to drink decaffeinated coffee if you still want to partake in coffee.
  5. Carry a refillable water bottle with you at all times so you have constant access to drinking water.
  6. Avoid going out unnecessarily or exercising in the heat. Usually the hottest times of the day are between 10am-2pm. Aim to exercise or go outside in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler.
  7. Wear clothing that is loose-fitting, thin and light in color. Try to stick to cotton or linen materials in the summer to stay cooler and prevent overheating.
  8. If you are outside, stay in the shade. Wear a hat and sunglasses and carry an umbrella to create more shade.
  9. Wear sunscreen every day, even when it is cloudy. Aim to wear at least SPF 30 or higher.

Remember to talk to your doctor about any other precautions you should take to stay hydrated. 

Conclusion

happy older couple laughing

Drinking plenty of water is vital to every person’s health and safety. By following these tips, staying hydrated can be an easy and extremely effective habit to incorporate into your daily routine. Doing so is especially important for seniors, as they are often more prone to dehydration and related complications.

If you are worried about your loved one’s health and safety as they age, it might be time to consider an assisted or independent living community.

Specially-trained staff members can ensure your loved one is drinking enough water, eating the right foods, and staying active and social on a daily basis. They can also keep a close eye on your loved one and watch for signs of dehydration and other illnesses. This type of secure environment allows seniors to stay engaged, participate in activities, and socialize with others while staying safe.

Sound like something you might be interested in? We can help you with the entire process!

As a local, family-owned Florida company, our expert advisors are familiar with all the senior living communities in the area. We will personally help you find the perfect community for your loved one where they can stay safe, healthy, active, and thriving.

And best of all, our services are at no cost to you!

We’ll make sure you find the best option possible for your family. 

Call Florida Senior Consulting today at (800) 969-7176 for a free consultation, or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com for more information. 

 

Senior living on your terms. The choice should be yours.

 

Contact Florida Senior Consulting

(800) 969-7176