Aging adults face a long list of concerns; dehydration can exacerbate many of them. That makes it crucial to know the best ways for seniors to stay hydrated, and as it turns out, recent developments in our understanding have made that goal more accessible than ever!
Dehydration is a serious concern for older adults. This article from the Mayo Clinic notes that dehydration can complicate a variety of chronic and acute conditions. Whether it is long-term urinary and kidney problems, or sudden drops in blood pressure due to low blood volume shock, dehydration can have a negative impact.
Dehydration is also associated with dizziness or confusion, which can lead to a costly fall or a moment of cognitive impairment that leads to irreversible consequences. It is also an area that requires more attention as we age. As this Cleveland Clinic article notes, our bodies naturally retain less water as we age, making it all the more important for people to understand the best ways for seniors to stay hydrated.
Fortunately, Dr. Dana Cohen and Gina Bria are on the case, helping to bring a sea of change in our understanding of hydration. When Bria learned that her mother was suffering from chronic dehydration while living in a care home, she set out to find a solution and embarked on a journey that would lead her to study the hydration practices of many desert-dwelling people, and eventually, to connect with Dr. Dana Cohen. Together, they co-authored the book Quench, which offers a new perspective on the best ways for seniors to stay hydrated.
Table of Contents
Best Ways for Seniors to Stay Hydrated #1: Eat Your Hydration
“Everyone knows that we must drink enough water. But Cohen and Bria, two authorities on hydration, tell us how we can obtain our water even more effectively from foods. I found their presentation refreshing and comprehensive — including a practical guide for achieving proper hydration in a painless (and delicious) way in your own kitchen. This book will set the standard for understanding of the life-giving issue of keeping hydrated.”—Gerald H. Pollack, PhD. Professor, University of Washington, Author, “The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor”
As you may have noticed, the professor quoted here – Gerald H. Pollack – is the author of a book with a curious title: The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor.
This is contrary to what most of us learned in school, but that is the ever-evolving nature of science. We are constantly challenging our old understanding, and in this case, Pollack’s perspective has helped to shift the understanding of the best ways for seniors to stay hydrated.
It all comes down to this fourth phase of water, known as structured water and EZ (exclusion zone) water. This “gel-like” phase of water is ideally suited to hydrating the body.
Why is that important? Because the water in food – which is particularly abundant in fruits and vegetables – is structured in this fourth phase. It is one of the reasons – according to Dr. Cohen and Bria – that eating an apple with a bottle of water is a better way to stay hydrated on a flight than drinking two bottles of water alone. Which brings us to the next point regarding the best ways for seniors to stay hydrated…
Best Ways for Seniors to Stay Hydrated #2: Create an Internal Environment Where Your Body Can Absorb Moisture
Have you encountered a situation where an individual is drinking glass after glass of water, but still dealing with dehydration?
It could be because their body is struggling to absorb the water. In the anecdote Bria tells about her mother, green smoothies – particularly with chia seeds – proved to be a better way to hydrate. While her mother struggled to retain water when she drank it without all the other ingredients in the smoothie, her body was able to absorb the water more readily when it came in a smoothie. These results were profound enough for Dr. Cohen and Bria to come up with dozens of different recipes with plenty of variety, which is one benefit of getting a copy of Quench.
The natural reaction to dehydration is to seek water, but issues with the human body are not always that straightforward, and this is one of those cases, which is why it is important to keep up to date with the best ways for seniors to stay hydrated.
Best Ways for Seniors to Stay Hydrated #3: Engage Your Fascial System
There was a time – not so long ago – when fascia, the connective tissue, was thought of as a superfluous part of the human design.
As it turns out, it is an essential system responsible for keeping the body hydrated. Some experts use the idea of a nylon stocking sock to convey the idea of how the fascia system works in the body. If the stocking is supple, it stretches and forms to the leg, but if it is worn out, it will develop tears. The fascial system is similar in that it will not work as well if it is not supple, but it runs over the entire body rather than a single leg.
When our fascial system is functioning, it is able to irrigate the rest of the body with fresh hydration. Ideally, this transportation system remains pliable throughout life. Yoga may be the most direct way to keep it working, but any form of movement should have a positive benefit on keeping the fascia supple.
To learn more about fascial health, you may want to check out Dr. Shalini Bhat’s appearance on Episode 25 of The Dhru Purohit podcast. The episode, Fascia: The Connective Tissue that Keeps You Healthy, will help you learn more about how important this system is to your hydration and overall function.
Best Ways for Seniors to Stay Hydrated #4: Time Your Water Consumption
In Quench, Dr. Cohen and Bria note several windows where water consumption is most beneficial to hydration. They target the period directly after waking, as well as right before you eat a meal, as ideal times to target a glass of water. That is not to say those are the only times that you should drink water, but those are opportunities to get more bang for your buck.
Best Ways for Seniors to Stay Hydrated #5: Add a Pinch of High-Quality Salt
There are many harms associated with consuming cheap, highly processed salt, but a higher-quality salt option includes minerals that are essential to keeping our bodies functioning properly. You don’t want to overdo it, but one of the best ways for seniors to stay hydrated is to find a higher-quality salt, such as sea salt or Himalayan salts, to add minerals and a bit of flavor to your water.
Proper hydration goes hand in hand with proper diet; to learn more about the impact of diet on aging, check out our article 6 Crucial Eating Tips for Healthy Aging. To learn more about Dr. Cohen and Bria’s work, get your copy of the book Quench, or check out Dr. Cohen on this episode of the Ancient Health Podcast!
If you have stories about your experiences with hydration, feel free to share! We are always learning from the unique challenges that people face to continue providing the best possible information and strategies!