Ways to Help Seniors Drink Enough Fluids on Hot Summer Days

Fun tips for staying hydrated in warmer weather  

To stay healthy, all humans need water to keep joints moving, protect organs and tissues, regulate body temperature, and overall make the body work better. On hot days, our bodies lose water more rapidly than usual. Also, senior adults have risk factors that can cause problems in the heat, including a reduced sense of thirst and decreased kidney functions, hindering the body’s ability to adapt to extreme temperatures or low hydration.

If you observe signs of confusion, dry mouth, slurred speech and altered behavior in your older adult, especially in warm weather, you might mistakenly attribute these symptoms to age, instead of the health-threatening effects of dehydration. 

Studies show that even a 2 percent reduction in body water weight (only 3 pounds on a 150-pound person) can lead to difficulties with short-term memory, attention spam and visual-motor tracking. For good health during the summer months, including optimal cognitive function, here are some fun tips for helping your senior loved ones stay well hydrated.

Infuse water with flavors. Add slices of lemons, limes, oranges, berries or cucumbers to pitchers of fresh water, and then refrigerate it. You’ll have a tasty, refreshing, natural beverage with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. 

Include other fluids. All fluids contribute to hydration, including tea, coffee, juices, milk and soups (but excluding alcohol, which is very dehydrating). The amount of caffeine in tea and coffee does not discount the fluid in them, even if they have a slight diuretic effect, says a report by the National Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board.

Get water from foods. Eat foods that naturally contain water. Research shows that only 70 to 80 percent of our daily hydration needs to come from water; 20 to 30 percent can come from foods. All whole fruits and vegetables contain water, but these contain the highest amounts:

  • 97% water: Cucumbers
  • 96% water: Celery
  • 95% water: Tomatoes, radishes
  • 93% water: Red, yellow, green bell peppers
  • 92% water: Cauliflower, watermelon
  • 91% water: Spinach, strawberries, broccoli
  • 90% water: Grapefruit

Provide a reusable water bottle. Avoid throwaway plastic water bottles that harm the environment—20 percent end up in landfills. Instead, buy a BPA-free refillable water bottle to help your senior adult keep track of his or her water intake each day. Try to make sure your loved one keeps the bottle nearby. With fluids right at hand, your senior is more likely to sip throughout the day.