By Rhaizza Velasquez-Garcia, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian for Meals on Wheels of San Antonio
Every year in May, Meals on Wheels San Antonio sends an information sheet to our clients about fluid needs during the summer and hot weather. The warmest months of the year in San Antonio are from May to August, with average temperatures of 95 degree Fahrenheit. During those months, it is especially important to stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause a decrease in physical and cognitive performance. It affects concentration, alertness, and short term memory, and it can also cause confusion, dizziness, and headaches. While it is important for everyone to stay hydrated, it is even more so for the elderly as the negative effects of dehydration are more intense in this population. Furthermore, studies show older people drink less water, have low water reserves, their kidneys do not conserve fluid as effectively, and have altered responses to heat and cold stress. For all of these reasons, it is important for our seniors to learn to drink regularly, even if they do not feel thirsty.
The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration: little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual, dry mouth, sleepiness or fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, dizziness or lightheaded feeling, and no tears when crying. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the best way to reduce your symptoms is by drinking water.
The average adult needs about 1.5 to 2 liters of water each day (52-68 ounces). A great way to get that is simply by drinking water, but there are plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables that can help us meet our daily need. We can also get water by drinking other beverages such as juice or milk, but many of them also add calories. Sugar sweetened beverages such as soda, highly sweetened coffee and iced teas, and other such drinks should be kept to a minimum.
Some tips for staying hydrated:
Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. If you do not drink often, give yourself a little reminder to do so. Remember to add more vegetables and fruit to your diet to supplement any lack of liquid in your diet. So, enjoy the summer heat but stay cool while doing so with these tips!