Preventing Dehydration For Seniors While Exercising

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Summer weather in New Jersey brings with it a ton of fun outdoor activities. Trips to the beach. Long walks on warm nights. Running around with the grandkids on the lawn. But summer also brings about a particularly serious problem for active seniors: dehydration.

Severe lack of hydration is no laughing matter. It can cause serious injury and even death. When it comes to exercise for seniors in the summer, dehydration can be especially dangerous. 

Take it from a New Jersey personal trainer who specializes in seniors, It’s important for older adults to understand the risks and signs of dehydration and learn the steps they can take to prevent it.

Why are seniors at higher risk for dehydration?

There are a number of causes why older adults are more at risk of getting dehydrated in the hot weather. As we get older, the body’s ability to conserve and regulate fluid is reduced. This can make it more difficult to adapt to things like changing temperatures and rise in body heat from exercise. Particularly in the summer weather.

In addition to that, the ability to be aware of and respond to thirst is reduced as we age. As a result, older people do not feel thirst as easily as younger people do. These factors combined with certain medical conditions and medications can affect a senior’s ability to retain much-needed fluids.

What are the signs of dehydration in older adults?

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When you’re exercising or active outdoors, be aware of the signs of dehydration in the elderly. Sometimes they might be slight but if you notice any of these signs it’s important to take a break, cool off and most importantly drink more water. 

  • Cramping in limbs
  • Headaches
  • Crying but with few or no tears
  • Weakness, general feeling of being unwell
  • Little or no urination
  • Dark or amber-colored urine
  • Dry skin that stays folded when pinched
  • Irritability, sleepiness, dizziness, or confusion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Weak pulse
  • Cold hands and feet

If you think that you or someone else is dehydrated, seek immediate medical attention.

How do you prevent dehydration in seniors?

Just about everyone knows how important drinking water is for stopping dehydration in older adults. However, it can still be tough to drink enough. We’ve compiled a list of easy steps you can take to quench your thirst and avoid serious health issues.

  • Drink water before, during and after activities
    • According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s guide to hydration, active people should drink at least 16-20 ounces of liquids 1 to 2 hours before outdoor activities so you have some fluids already inside you.
    • While exercising and moving around outside, you should consume 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes you are outside.
    • To replace what you have lost when you are finished outside drink about 2- 3 cups. Just because you’re done exercising doesn’t mean you can’t feel the effects of dehydration.
  • Drink more water in general
    • When you increase your H2O intake consistently your body becomes better at managing fluid levels. But remembering to drink enough can be a challenge but by having chilled water that’s always available, staying hydrated is much easier. You can keep a Brita filter in your fridge or you can buy a bottleless water cooler that offers an endless supply of refreshing cold water. Bottleless H2O dispensers also offer an advantage over bottled water machines because you don’t need to worry about lifting heavy water jugs which could lead to back and shoulder injuries.
  • Don’t wait to hydrate
    • Feeling parched is usually the first sign of a hydration issue. But because it can take longer for seniors to feel thirsty, you may already be further along the path to dehydration than you realize. Right when you feel the first sign of thirst, get some water in you right away.
  • Grab a bottle of water with you when you go out
    • The easiest way to stay hydrated is to always have H2O by your side. Before you go outside fill up a water bottle. (Reusable bottles are so much better for the environment) Make sure you don’t take too heavy of a bottle because you’ll need to carry it around outside. Hydration belts are also a great way to have water on you without throwing off your gait.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages before exercise
    • While they are liquids, alcohol coffee, teas and colas are bad for dehydration in seniors and other athletes. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration.
  • Find an exercise buddy
    • Many times it’s hard to notice when you’re displaying signs of dehydration like irritability, dizziness, or confusion. By having an exercise buddy you can keep an eye on each other’s well being. (Not to mention make sure you have proper form.)
  • Take a break
    • If you feel yourself slowing down or weakening, STOP. Take a seat before you overheat. It’s important not to push yourself too hard. There’s no harm in pausing your fitness to catch your breath and take a sip of water.

You Too Can Prevent Dehydration In Seniors!

Dehydration can be very dangerous for seniors while exercising. It’s crucial for both older men and women to drink plenty of water in the summer. This includes both indoor and outdoor activities. So before you start exercising, make sure you take a nice long drink of water.

Do you have any other tips for helping seniors stay hydrated? Leave a comment below!

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Rebecca Delman