Summer is here. Finally! However, along with high temperatures comes humidity, and some heat exhaustion. It’s more important than ever for the elderly, and family caregivers, to remain alert to water in-take and proper hydration.

Many times we rely on our doctors for medical advice on important health decisions. Yet, when it comes to daily living advice, sometimes we ignore or misunderstand how to monitor and maintain healthy habits.

If you take in less fluid than your body needs, you are at risk of dehydration. Dehydration is common in seniors due to decreased feelings of thirst, medications and diseases that increase your fluid needs, and decrease in overall food and beverage intake.

Dehydration can cause confusion, fatigue, hot or cold sensations, muscle cramping, headache, dry mouth, eyes and skin, constipation, dangerous changes to blood pressure, and abnormal blood chemistry (ex: blood sugar, electrolytes).

How much fluid should you drink?

— If you are 65 or older, your mission is to ingest 2 liters per day, or 9 glasses of fluid (1 glass = 8 oz). Also remember, other sources of liquid will help, such as milk (with cereal), soup (for lunch/dinner), coffee, tea, a cold popsicle, and some fruits and vegetables, too. [If you have kidney or heart problems, please consult with your doctor for specific amounts.]

How to plan to reach this daily goal?

— Drink 1 glass of fluid with each meal. And one glass in between meals to make sure you get enough. Keep water (or other fluid) in arm’s reach throughout the day. (I always try to have water or a coke on the table for my mother.) Stash a water bottle in your car or bag when you leave the house.

Your urine should be light in color. The darker it is, the more at risk of dehydration you are. A dark yellow color means your body does not have sufficient fluids.
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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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