During the hot summer months, it’s important to stay hydrated. Dehydration affects us all during heat waves, but those with respiratory difficulties or conditions such as Alzheimer’s are especially at risk, as are young children and the elderly.
When the temperature starts to rise, these simple steps can ensure that you and those close to you are safe and hydrated.
Dehydration warning signs
The most obvious sign of dehydration is feeling thirstier than normal and at a more intense level. However, dizziness or lightheadedness is also an important indicator. Dehydration can also cause fatigue and inability to concentrate.
Urine color gives a very clear indicator that your hydration levels are dangerously low. Healthy urine color should typically be a pale yellow. Dark-colored urine passed in small amounts is one of the body’s ways of warning you of dehydration.
Prolonged dehydration can lead to other health complications such as diabetes and low blood pressure. If you start to display any of these signs, or you spot them in someone else, it’s essential to rehydrate quickly by drinking water.
Reaching the right level of hydration
Generally, it’s recommended that you drink about two liters of fluid each day – approximately six to eight glasses. This doesn’t always have to be water either. You can drink any liquid as long as you avoid caffeinated beverages; caffeine actually causes you to lose fluids.
Hydration isn’t just about drinking water. Around 20% of our fluid intake comes from what we eat. For certain individuals who have a small appetite, such as the elderly, this can result in being more prone to dehydration.
Along with water, some of the foods that can help you stay hydrated during summer include: lettuce, cucumber, celery, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, melons, peaches, oranges, grapefruit, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, broth, and soup.
You might be surprised to learn that the classic summer treats of ice cream and popsicles could cause you to become hotter. Your body temperature rises in order to compensate for the sudden drop in temperature caused by consuming these cold treats.
Stay cool & hydrated at home
For individuals living with a condition like dementia, remembering to stay hydrated is particularly challenging. You can support a family member or friend in your care by giving gentle prompts and reminders to drink and sticking to a set mealtime with an additional beverage.
Having a drink together is another way you can help someone close to you get the fluids they need. Offer them a choice of drinks, using a drinking aid if needed, and keep encouraging them without being demanding. Using lightweight cups also makes taking a drink feel like less of an effort.
Dehydration can occur at home, even away from the sun and heat. A cool living environment can be achieved with some simple adaptations around the home, such as turning lights and electrical equipment off when they’re not needed and ensuring that the room is well ventilated. Keeping indoor plants is another great idea, as they act as natural air conditioners.
While it’s nice to get out and enjoy the sunny weather, make sure you’re both protected from the strong sunshine and heat. Wear plenty of sunscreens and loose-fitting, cotton clothing, as cotton absorbs moisture from sweat and helps to keep you cool. If you’re finding that either of you is starting to get too hot, stay in the shade as much as possible, drink plenty of water and apply water to the skin as needed.
If you do go out into the sun with a relative or friend with a health condition, encourage them to take a cool shower when you return home. If they need help, remember to give them their privacy and personal space.
Helping you through the process
If your parent or loved one needs more help than you can provide, contact Oasis Senior Advisors for assistance. We offer resources for seniors and their families, as well as support and guidance every step of the way so you can feel confident in your senior housing selection. Deciding to make the move to a long-term care community is an emotional, financial, and physically taxing process, and you don’t have to do it alone.