There’s good news and bad news for people who feel challenged trying to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Caregivers will tell you that figure is more of a guideline to make sure you stay well-hydrated, and less of a rigid requirement.
The bad news, however, is that there are several reasons people should drink more than this amount to make sure they stay hydrated and healthy.
The team at Accredited Home Care encourages all of our clients – and even our staff – to make sure everyone has enough to drink.
Doing so reduces the risk of mental or physical problems due to dehydration and generally makes the body feel better. Having too much water can lead to some medical problems, but the more common problems are not drinking enough and the body reacting to it.
It’s especially challenging for some seniors: as people age, their bodies have less water, which makes it easier to get dehydrated, sometimes without being aware of it.
For those interested in learning more about the value of hydration, or how to encourage others to drink more, consider these suggestions.
- You don’t have to drink only water. Although findings in the 1990s gave us the “8 cups of water” figure, additional research concluded that beverages containing water also can provide some of the necessary fluid for good hydration. Coffee or tea, for instance, is a good way to start the day for many people, and both beverages are water-based. Both also provide beneficial nutrients as well. If you’re concerned about caffeine, there are decaffeinated versions of each. But you should also avoid alcohol and soft drinks which make you thirstier.
- Some medical conditions may require more water. Heart disease is one that often requires more water. Diabetes also requires more consumption. But be careful if you use juice – while many do have water as an ingredient, some also have high amounts of sugar. People undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancers may be encouraged to drink more water to improve blood flow and removing toxins from the body.
- You don’t have to drink a lot all the time. Some people who feel challenged getting their required amounts of water during the day may feel too full if they only drink several glasses during meals. This can make them feel bloated, sluggish, and not hungry. Current thinking on hydration recommends drinking small amounts throughout the day which can add up to your recommended amount. People can accomplish this ‘sipping’ goal in different ways such as walking around the home with a water bottle or having a drink whenever they go in or pass through the kitchen. If you travel, consider taking water breaks on a regular basis like you take bathroom breaks.
- Beware of high temperatures. It’s not news that the warmer it gets, the more you’ll sweat, so you’ll need more water to make up for any water loss. But new research has shown that seniors are even more susceptible to the effects of heat than previously known. A piece published in Healthline showed the many seniors experience changes in temperature stronger and faster than younger people, which could increase the risk of conditions like heat exhaustion or other heart problems. Incorporating alcohol on a hot day, such as a cold beer, could further increase the risk of potential heat-related damage.
- Explain the benefits. Beyond simply following a health directive that may even be out of date, some people don’t know why they are supposed to be drinking so much. Many know water is generally good, but not everyone knows about water’s role in the body. It helps remove toxins, which is good. It improves blood flow throughout the body, which refreshes the organs and makes the body perform more optimally. The brain can be enhanced which means mental processes work better. Plus, water cushions the joints which can reduce overall pain and fatigue and brings nutrients to cells to help you digest better.
If you’re unsure how much water you should be having, be sure to talk to your doctor or health care provider. He or she can estimate a healthy quantity for you based on factors such as age, gender, and physical condition. On average, WebMD suggests 13 cups for men and 9 cups a day for women, but the amount can vary for seniors.
Because water is so important to our overall health, there are many efforts in place to restore contaminated water and prevent sources of water from damage.
World Water Week recently took place, which focused on challenges facing the global water supply along with what areas need clean-up. Many experts believe water is going to be an especially valuable commodity in the future especially as the population grows, temperatures heat up, and some waterways are contaminated.