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We Can’t Live Without It, Hydration And The Older Adult

Water makes up about 70% of the human body. From our bloodstream to inside each and every cell, it is required in every life-sustaining body process. Water is very important to our health, yet is often overlooked in our diets. In addition to providing cushion and temperature control, water also function as transportation of nutrients and waste, maintains proper volume of blood, keeps the urinary tract flushed, and promotes improved digestion and intestinal function. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of hospitalization in the older adult and approximately half of those hospitalized for dehydration die within a year.

You can monitor your hydration status with a few simple checks. Thirst is often an early indicator of a 1-2% loss of body fluid, so respond when you feel thirsty. However, most older adults have a diminished sense of thirst. So looking at your urine or your skin are better indicators. Your urine should be clear or light yellow. Darker urine may mean you are not meeting your fluid needs. Dry skin or skin that doesn’t bounce back when pinched lightly and released is another indicator of poor hydration. Also watch for headaches, dizziness, muscle spasms, weakness, and delirium.

Of course, drinking 48-64 ounces of water and other fluids such as milk and decaffeinated beverages each day will help you stay hydrated. You can switch up your water by adding some fruit or cucumber slices for flavoring. A word of caution on juices as these can be sugar-loaded beverages. Little sips throughout the day can help meet your fluid needs and not fill you up. But foods can also be a great source of fluid in your diet. By including soups, fresh fruits, canned fruit in juice, fresh and frozen vegetables, no salt added canned vegetables.

We know the healthy choice is not always the easiest choice, but small changes can make a big difference. Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Dietitians, Cheryl Wahlstrom RDN and Carey Skelton RDN are available for nutrition counseling and SNAP-ed programs. The SNAP-ed program is FREE for those who receive or qualify for SNAP benefits. We want to help you save time, save money, and eat healthy! Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Senior Nutrition Program also provides nutritious meals through Home Delivered Meals, Congregate Dining In Sites, as well as a Restaurant Dining Out Program throughout the county. We also sponsor several exercise programs. Please remember to contribute toward your OFAS nutrition services if you can. These programs are not sustainable without the support of participants and community contributions. Be aware that SNAP benefits can be used toward your contribution. Call NY Connects at 716-453-4582 for more details and information.

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