Older adults are at risk for dehydration because they tend to lose their sense of thirst. Dementia can contribute to dehydration (people can "forget" to drink).
Lack of proper fluid intake can cause symptoms ranging from headaches to false hunger pains (often when we are thirsty we think we are hungry!). Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), also called cystitis or bladder infections, are an issue for many older adults who do not drink enough to flush bacteria out of their systems.
While the benefits of proper hydration are clear, it's not necessary to force 8 glasses of water a day. Ironically, drinking TOO MUCH WATER can throw off the body's electrolyte balance which can lead to cardiac disorders.
Here are some tips for proper hydration:
- Sip room temperature (not iced) water in between meals. Never gulp water, especially cold water. Drink filtered water whenever possible.
- Don't force fluids.
- Don't restrict fluids.
- For UTI or bladder infections, drink unsweetened cranberry or blueberry juice (make sure you do not add sugar which can feed the bacteria that cause infection). Licorice tea and taking herbal remedies such as uva ursi--also called bear berry-- help with bladder infections and urinary tract issues.