Have you ever felt tired and did not know why? When you have not had enough water to drink, you can feel very tired and weak. As you age, your thirst center has been reduced so you may not even feel thirsty.
The human body is 70% water. When your body has enough water, your muscles have enough to function, your joints are lubricated, your kidneys have enough flowing through them, and your stomach digests food easier.
We gain water mostly by drinking fluids. We can also gain water by eating moist foods, like fruit. Our bodies break down foods by using glucose and oxygen to make water. Drinking more water helps the body to better use the glucose we eat and reduce fat deposits in the body.
Aging reduces our ability to regulate sodium with water and we tend to hold more water in the form of swelling in our hands, face, and feet. If you gain more than two pound in one day, it may be related to excessive water. Old kidneys are less effective and filter less water.
A significant amount of water may be hidden in areas of the body. The fluid in the feet, rises to the legs, then to the stomach. An excessive amount of water may lead to heart failure and problems with breathing.
To prevent gaining excessive water, take in a low sodium diet. The American Heart Association recommends eating 2,300 mg of sodium daily to reduce the fluid load on the heart.
As we age, we gain fat and lose muscle. This will reduce the ability to hold water when we drink. As we age, our body slows down. We have less muscles to hold water, our joints are stiff, our kidneys don’t concentrate urine as well, and we have a difficult time getting our stomachs and bowels to corporate.
The aging adult has an increased chance of becoming dehydrated. This can lead to confusion, weakness, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, constipation, and bedsores. Illness causing vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration quicker.
Sources to lose water include urine, stool, skin, and lungs. Only four days without water leads to renal failure and death. Difficulty walking, dry skin, dry lips, and sunken eyes are warning signs to watch for. Dehydration is a common cause of hospital admissions for aging seniors.
There are other factors that may change our ability to hold or loose water. Some medications cause us to hold more water while other medications cause water loss. Medications causing water gain or water lose include antidepressants, medications for dementia, some seizure medications, medications for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
It is important to understand medications. The internet is one source but may not be specific to your body profile. Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, nurse practitioners, or Masters Prepared Nurse specialized in Medications. Learn everything you can about your medications, herbals, vitamins, and over the counter medications. Learn the action, side effects, and the methods to help the medications work better.
Preventing dehydration includes drinking water regularly by having clean fresh water available. Drink when you are not thirsty. Eat healthy foods full of liquid such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.
Move more to reduce loss of muscle. Get up every hour and stand, move and walk to use your muscles. Do this starting at age 30 and up to your advanced age. Moving reduces loss of muscle and the ability to hold water. Standing has been shown to help reduce loss of muscle mass.
Check your urine color. Yes, look at your urine before you flush. If it is pale, your fluid status is good. If the urine is dark, your urine is concentrated and you need to drink more fluid. Drink more fluid than you want to drink to catch up.
These articles are written to help seniors live healthier, happier, and longer. Helping seniors understand changes normal to aging are important to a healthier community. Wellness is not just for the youth or those still working. Whether you are working to lose weight, prevent loss of muscle, or understand your medications, find a reliable source to help.
Leave me a message on how this article helps your needs in aging.
Mary Ann Wietbrock RN MSN
A Nurse specialized in Fitness & Nutrition & Medications
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