Southern California’s temperate climate makes hiking, biking, gardening and other outdoor activities for seniors enjoyable all year through — but with summer just around the corner, you may be spending even more time outside.
As temperatures start to climb, it’s more important than ever to safeguard against dehydration, especially if you’re planning to engage in activities that will cause you to sweat.
Dehydration can happen to anyone, but young children and older adults are more likely to become dehydrated.
One reason that seniors are particularly prone to dehydration is that their body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller. Medications that are commonly prescribed for seniors, such as diuretics and some blood pressure drugs, also can make dehydration more likely.
Some illnesses and medical conditions can increase your chances of becoming dehydrated:
While thirst is a telltale sign of dehydration, in many cases people are already dehydrated by the time they feel thirsty. This is particularly true for seniors because your sensation of thirst decreases with age.
These are other signs that you could be dehydrated:
Severe dehydration can be life-threatening. Call 911 for the following symptoms — especially if multiple symptoms are present:
If you are exercising or engaged in some other activity that causes you to perspire a lot, and you don’t rehydrate sufficiently, you could be at risk for overheating. This can range from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion and even heatstroke, which can be fatal.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to protect yourself from becoming dehydrated. The key, of course, is to remember to stay hydrated. That means drinking plenty of the right kind of fluids throughout the day — and rehydrating when you’re perspiring.
Water is the best choice for hydration. But if you’re like a lot of people, you probably want some variety.
Slices of lemon, lime or orange can add flavor to your water, or alternate between water, milk and fruit juice. Be mindful, though, of the sugar in most fruit juices. Dilute the juice with water to lower your sugar intake. Try adding some ice cubes!
Coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks and alcohol can have a diuretic effect, so it’s a good idea to offset those beverages by drinking more hydrating liquids.
When you’re exercising, you may want to rehydrate with a sports drink to replenish the electrolytes you lose when you perspire. Like fruit juices, some sports drinks can be high in sugar. They supply carbohydrates for energy, but you may not need those extra empty calories. Check the label for the sugar content, and consider mixing the sports drink with water.
If you’re planning a particularly strenuous workout, it’s a good idea to start hydrating the day before, according to the Mayo Clinic. Then, replenish your fluid level regularly during the activity and continue to drink water or other hydrating fluids afterward.
You may have heard or read that alkaline water has health benefits ranging from improved digestion and metabolism to reduced bone loss. As of yet, there’s scant research to substantiate these claims. The gastric juices in your stomach most likely re-acidify alkaline water before it can have much effect one way or another.
Eating foods that are high in water content count toward your fluid intake, so help yourself to healthy portions of melon, leafy greens, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, apples, peaches and other “high-water” foods.
We’re all about helping older adults take advantage of all that inspired senior living can provide, from nutritious dining to wellness opportunities and upscale amenities that rival the most luxurious you’ll find in any retirement communities in California.
Along with our commitment to offering a healthy lifestyle, we extend an extra level of support to older adults who can benefit from help with activities of daily living. Our caring staff understands the need for all residents — whether they’re at The Variel for independent living, assisted living or memory care — to maintain their dignity and as much independence as possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about our community and the inspired senior living we encourage older adults to embrace, we invite you to contact us. We’ll be happy to answer your questions. If you like, we can also set up a one-on-one visit with you at the Discovery Center.