A few years ago, the health gurus declared, “You must drink at least 8 glasses of water daily for optimum health”. We all dutifully tried forcing down a litre or more of H2O every day, but many of us soon gave up, deciding we didn’t want to spend even more of our precious time in the bathroom.
Unfortunately, dehydration is all too common among the elderly—and it’s dangerous.
Insufficient fluid intake can cause serious health issues, such as weakness, poor mental functioning, blood pressure and heart rate fluctuations—even coma and death. Age-related risk factors include: less ability to notice thirst; taking medications that are diuretic; kidneys that no longer conserve fluid efficiently, and reduced appetite. So we must ensure we’re taking in enough fluid as we age.
The good news is that we don’t have to go back to force-feeding ourselves huge amounts of water every day. As Larry Kenney, PhD, professor of physiology and kinesiology at Penn State notes, “There is no scientific evidence whatsoever supporting that [8 glass] rule.” In fact, we can get all the liquid we need by incorporating these few simple habits into our daily routine:
- Eat fresh fruits, especially those with higher water content such as watermelons and grapes. Even most vegetables are quite ‘watery’ – carrots, lettuce and broccoli are all at least 90% water!
- Eat popsicles and sorbets as treats
- Drink water or juice before and after taking a walk
- Include soup or salad with meals
- After using the bathroom, drink some water to replace the loss
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (alcohol is a diuretic)
- Drink a full glass of water with your medication
- Take sips of water, milk, or juice during each meal
Pass the popsicles, please!