Our bodies are made up of approximately 65% of water. The brain is around 85% water. A Loss of just 1-2% of total body water can impair brain function causing a range of problems from mild confusion to severe delirium.
Some essential functions of water in the body:
- Maintain a normal temperature
- Promote normal brain function
- Keep the joints lubricated and cushioned
- Protect the brain and spinal cord
- Support normal bowel movements
Aging predisposes to dehydration due to:
- Loss of muscle
- Decreased thirst
- Decreased fluid intake from a more restricted diet
- Forgetting to drink due to memory loss
- Difficulty obtaining drinks due to communication and/or mobility
- Swallowing problems
- Fear of incontinence
- Medication use (e.g. diuretics, laxitives)
- Illness (especially with fever, diarrhea, and/or vomiting)
Other major factors that affect hydration needs:
- Height and weight
- Physical activity levels
- Weather / climate
Major signs of dehydration:
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Decreased frequency of urination
- Dark colored urine
- Dizziness (especially with standing)
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart beat
- Weak pulse
- Muscle cramps
- Weakness, fatigue, falls (!)
- Confusion, irritability (!)
Exactly how much anyone should drink to avoid dehydration depends on the several factors (age, weight, height, activity level, climate/temperature, etc.) However, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.
General Gender-Based Recommendations For Daily Water / Fluid Intake
|Women||2.5 liters||85 oz||10 cups|
|Men||3.5 liters||120 oz||15 cups|
General Weight-Based Recommendations For Daily Water / Fluid Intake
|Weight||Ounces of Water Per Day||Number of Cups Daily|
|100 lbs||50 oz||7 cups|
|120 lbs||60 oz||8 cups|
|130 lbs||70 oz||9 cups|
|140 lbs||80 oz||10 cups|
|150 lbs||90 oz||11 cups|
|160 lbs||100 oz||12 cups|
|170 lbs||110 oz||13 cups|
|180 lbs||120 oz||15 cups|
|190 lbs||130 oz||16 cups|
Specific / individualized recommendations using online calculators:
|Everyday Health||Calculator-Online||Giga Calculator||Rehydrate Pro|
Fruit & Vegetable Intake
Weather / Climate
|Age & Gender|
Height & Weight
Weather / Climate
About 20 percent of your daily fluid should come from the foods you eat. Fruits, vegetables, and soups are some of the best food sources of fluid.
Flavored water w/
Jello-O, Jelly Drops
Meal replacement drinks
** Coffee and tea tend to increase urination and contribute to dehydration. However, this can be avoided by consuming small amounts and/or using caffeine-free options.
Consider individual needs and preferences:
- For example, a beverage may be more appealing if served in a pretty glass or with garnish.
- Consider serving a healthy smoothie in an old-fashioned soda fountain glass with a piece of fresh fruit on the rim.
- Soups and broth can taste and feel more like a meal and less like a drink.
- For those who prefer sweets, popsicles, milkshakes, and smoothies may be better options.
- E.g., thickness, creaminess, smoothness, lumpiness, stickiness, grittiness, etc.
Learn more about about Sensory-Rich Experiences Help Caregivers Communicate With Elderly Patients
- Offer drinks regularly and keep them accessible.
- Encourage drinking a full glass of fluid every time medications are taken.
- Consider using modified containers if necessary (e.g. with lid, handles, and/or straw).
- Increase fluid intake in warmer/drier conditions & before/after physical activity.
- Encourage additional fluids when experiencing fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Some online ideas and recipes: