Older adults face an uphill battle when it comes to staying hydrated.
As we age, our body’s thirst response is decreased and our kidneys function less efficiently. This leads to less fluid intake and less fluid retention – the root cause of underhydration. For older adults, underhydration is very common, as more than 40 percent of the demographic is chronically underhydrated.
Underhydration is not the same as dehydration, but it’s a step above it. There’s a fine line separating the two, and that line is easy to cross. When older adults find themselves dehydrated, it can be a serious situation. Some of the effects of dehydration are a significant risk factor for falls, including confusion, weakness and fatigue.
Brenda Abbott-Shultz, RN, Sagora Senior Living’s Vice President of Resident Services, has studied the effects of dehydration on seniors and older adults. She knows the challenges that they face in staying hydrated throughout the day – especially when it comes to drinking water, a task that can sometimes seem mundane.
Seniors need more than seven cups of water each day. Given the decreased thirst response in older adults, it is hard to get that all at once. Brenda has emphasized the need for seniors to take smaller sips throughout the day, and Sagora Senior Living’s communities have answered the call with tactics designed to bring a new twist to an important bodily process.
“We all work collaboratively,” Brenda said. “We have the science and the knowledge behind it, and our programs help put together the items that we need in order to make sure the residents are staying hydrated.”
Each Sagora Senior Living community contains centrally located hydration stations. In addition to regular water, these stations contain water infused with different fruits, giving the water a fresh new taste that residents love.
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of the hydration process, as they contain vitamins and electrolytes that can be easily lost in sweat. Water infused with fruits helps replenish those essential elements, boosting overall resident health. Yet fruits and vegetables can be beneficial beyond their liquid form, as they boast a high water content and can help the body stay hydrated.
Meals at Sagora Senior Living communities contain fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, melons and citrus. They make for fresh, tasty dishes with all sorts of flavors. Eating fruits and vegetables can give the body a few more cups of water and decrease the amount that seniors need to drink each day.
“Salads are a great way to get fluids, especially on a hot summer day,” Brenda said. “So, add some fruit to your salad, especially the ones with the highest water content!”
Residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease find this incredibly beneficial. Dementia and Alzheimer’s can greatly decrease the body’s thirst response and lead to a higher risk of dehydration for those in Memory Care programs. Knowing this, Culinary Directors at each community work with associates like Brenda and her team to craft meals and snacks loaded with hydrating fruits and veggies.
That’s just part of the collaborative effort that goes into Sagora Senior Living’s Resident First philosophy. With skilled associates providing expert, individualized care, residents thrive and enjoy the highest standard of living in socially oriented communities.
Want to find out more? Give your local Sagora Senior Living community a call and find out how it can change your life!