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August 15, 2023

The Importance of Hydration as We Age

Drinking water daily to keep properly hydrated is an important step to staying healthy, especially as we age. Doctors recommend one cup of water for every 20 pounds of body weight, or 6 to 8 glasses every day. With summer heat the need for water increases dramatically.

Some medications may cause dehydration, so older adults should check with their doctor if this is a possible side effect for medications they take.

A person's sense of thirst decreases with age, and frailty can make it difficult to get up to get a drink as often as an older person should. Keeping a water bottle filled and nearby can remind an older adult to remember to drink water more often. Caregivers should make it part of their routine to be sure the water bottle is refilled often.

Know these signs of dehydration, which may include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Inability to sweat or produce tears
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low urine output
  • Constipation

If you suspect someone may be dehydrated, you can check by having them pull up the skin on the back of their hand for a few seconds; if it does not return to normal almost immediately, that person is dehydrated.

*This post originally appeared on the Missoula Aging Services website in the summer of 2020.