Summer is a favorite season for many

Summer is a favorite season for many. It is a time when many individuals start spending more time outdoors gardening, enjoying picnics, and spending time outside on the front porch with friends and family. With increased time outdoors, it is important to remember to stay hydrated.

Seniors are at higher risk of dehydration for many reasons. As we age, our body does not conserve as much water as it once did which makes it more vulnerable to temperature changes. Along with this, the feeling of thirst may often be delayed and by the time the feeling of thirst hits, fluid levels in the body may already be very low. Drinking fluid throughout the day may also either be forgotten due to dementia or dreaded due to difficulty swallowing for fear of choking. Some seniors may even avoid drinking fluids because they do not want to have to get up to use the restroom often.

It is important to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of dehydration so that severe dehydration may be prevented. Signs and symptoms include headache, constipation, muscle cramps, drowsiness, and dry mouth and tongue. Urine color is also an early sign of dehydration. Urine will be clear to light yellow when adequately hydrated. Thirst may not be a good indicator of early signs of dehydration because a lot of times when thirst sensations arise, dehydration may already be present. If dehydration is left untreated, severe dehydration may occur. Signs and symptoms of severe dehydration include very dark/amber colored urine, minimal to no urination, skin remains in tenting position when pinched, dizziness, confusion, low blood pressure, rapid breathing, elevated heart rate, weak pulse, and cold hands and feet.

About 60% of our body is made of water and the amount we need depends on many factors including exercise and exposure to heat. For example, someone who is outside sweating in the garden will need more fluid than someone sitting inside watching TV. The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids and consume foods with high water content. Drinking plain water is not the only way to stay hydrated this summer. Mix things up by infusing water with fruit, mixing half of a glass of juice with half of a glass of water, or using other water enhancers. Fluid can also be found in sweet treats such as popsicles and smoothies. For a more savory flavor, try sipping on broth or adding broth to a soup to help improve fluid intake at snacks and meals.

Some foods also contain fluid and can contribute to one’s daily fluid intake. Raw fruits and vegetables are a great source of fluid. The list below can help add high fluid foods into your diet:

– 1 cup of sliced, peeled cucumber = 96% water

– 1 medium tomato = 94% water

– 1 cup of diced watermelon = 92% water

– § cup of sliced bell pepper = 92% water

– 1 cup of grapes = 92% water

– 1 medium orange = 97% water

-1 cup of blueberries = 85% water

– 1 medium apple = 84% water

These fruits and vegetables can easily be added into one’s daily diet. Start the day off with additional fluid by tossing a handful of blueberries into a yogurt cup or bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Cool down after an afternoon working in the garden with a bowl of watermelon or grapes. Help yourself or a loved one stay hydrated this summer by remembering to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and incorporating more of these fluid filled foods into the diet.