Proper hydration is essential for overall health, especially for regulating body temperature in older adults during physical activity, according to a recent study from the University of Ottawa.
- Older people need to drink more water to compensate for age-related changes in body temperature regulation.
- Older people should drink water even if they are not thirsty because of age-related brain changes.
- Dehydration can cause severe health issues.
- Plain water is the best choice among other drinks for proper hydration.
As we age, we need to drink more water to compensate for changes in our body temperature regulation, new research discovered. Findings show when older people exercise, their bodies can no longer appropriately adjust the amount of sweat produced to prevent further dehydration—leading to a higher risk of adverse heart problems, heat exhaustion, heatstroke.
The Science Behind it
Researchers urge older adults to drink water if they are not thirsty. Dr. Nodar Janas, medical director of Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in New York, explains: “As we get older, our thirst center — which is in the hypothalamus — isn’t as active as it used to be, so the brain doesn’t always give the signal that we need to drink. We need to make an extra effort to ensure that the elderly consume appropriate amounts of fluids, whether they’re thirsty or not.”
One more factor responsible for possible dehydration is that the elderly people seem to have a worse tolerance to cold. “Too warm of an environment can lead to excessive perspiration without realizing you’re dehydrated,” said Dr. Janas.
Risks of Dehydration
Dehydration can cause two severe conditions — kidney failure and electrolyte imbalances. Other unpleasant consequences are fatigue, muscle weakness, dry skin, low blood pressure.
How to Hydrate Properly
Experts warn about popular drinks, such as soda, tea, and coffee. They are considered diuretics and can cause dehydration. The best glass for staying hydrated is plain water, as it contains no additives like sugar and other ingredients that your body would have to process.