Greener On Our Side

What's in the Water? Health and Hydration
by Colleen Kowalewski, life services-home care director at Friendship Senior Options

Given that the human body is 60 percent water, you wouldn’t think proper hydration would be a problem, but it is a major concern in the hot and humid summer months, especially for older adults. As we age, the mechanisms meant to keep us hydrated don’t work as well, and signals that we are thirsty are less pronounced too.

There are other contributing factors for seniors as well, particularly those who are away from the presence of others: mobility problems can prevent them from drinking often enough, incontinence issues can make them reluctant to drink enough, and memory issues can impede remembering to properly hydrate.

But, wait, there’s good news! Awareness is most of the battle, and by following a few simple steps, we can avoid the risk of dehydration.

  • Not crazy about the taste (or lack thereof) of water? Infuse it with some of your favorite herbs or fruits. GreenFields of Geneva’s water infusion stations feature fresh and refreshing additions every day, making them a popular and healthy break for everyone – residents, staff and guests. While water is the optimal choice, other beverages can also boost hydration, such as juices and sports drinks with electrolytes and decaffeinated coffee or tea.
  • Don’t wait to feel thirsty to drink. Keep a glass of water or water bottle next to your bed or chair. Reusable thermal water bottles keep water cool, look great, are environmentally friendly and easy to access when you’re on the go.
  • If you’re feeling hungry, you might actually be thirsty. Our body often confuses thirst for hunger, as the symptoms of hunger and thirst are similar, so take a drink!
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, as both can leave you dehydrated.
  • Enjoy the beautiful sunshine and warmth this time of year but avoid extended periods in the sun and heat and take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning. Excessive heat quickly deprives the body of vital fluids and nutrients, particularly in seniors, and can compromise our ability to recognize the symptoms and consequences of dehydration.

More good news is that the city of Geneva built a $24 million water treatment plant 10 years ago that uses reverse osmosis, the best municipal treatment technology available. What that means for residents of GreenFields and citizens of Geneva is that the city’s drinking water is pure, removed of ions, molecules and larger particles.

What may be the best antidote for the risks of dehydration is community, and GreenFields of Geneva offers that in abundance. With friendly residents who look after one another to qualified, caring staff who regularly emphasize the importance of proper hydration to overall well-being (recent “Learn a Bit” and “What’s Up, Doc?” sessions focused on responsible fun in the sun), healthy living is front and center – this summer and always.

 


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