Q: How much water should I drink every day to stay healthy?

A: Staying well hydrated is always important, but even more so as we age. One National Institute of Health study showed that those who drink enough fluids stay healthier and develop less chronic conditions than those who do not. And yet almost 40% of older adults are chronically dehydrated, as was reported by a UCLA study.

To start with answering your question on how much water you should drink per day, it varies for each person. The goal is to stay hydrated, which simply means that your body has enough fluids to function properly. Each person’s body is different, but one way to tell if you are drinking enough is to check the color of your urine. According to the American Heart Association, if your urine is pale in color and clear, you are likely well-hydrated. If it is dark colored it is an indication of dehydration.

Another way to determine how much water to drink is to follow the general rule of taking one third of your body weight and drinking that number in ounces per day. For example, a 150-pound person should drink 50 ounces per day. Depending on chronic conditions or medications the number might be different for you, so you can always check with your doctor.

Older adults are more likely not to drink enough because they do not tend to get thirsty, and their body regulates heat differently. They are more at risk of dehydration.

My grandfather used to say he drank water all the time and we did not need to worry about him. But when I would spend time with him I could see he was nursing the same 12 ounce glass of water all day long. He was not aware of how little he was actually drinking.

To keep yourself on track, pay attention to the amount you drink and set a goal. There are many water bottles you can even buy that mark the ounces to help motivate you to reach your goal.

Another reason some may opt to drink less is due to bladder concerns. Find ways to manage your continence worries by scheduling your plans with bathroom breaks in mind, and wearing a pad for leaks if there is a concern. The consequences of dehydration are too serious to ignore.

Hydration is essential to most all of our bodily functions. It helps us pump our blood, lubricate our joints, and even gives us more energy. It can also help with weight management. Often, we reach for a snack because our signal is hunger, when really it is thirst. Next time you are hungry, and it is not time to eat, try reaching for a glass of water.

Many people do not enjoy the taste of plain water. If that is true for you then find ways to flavor it with fruit, juice or consider flavored sparkling water.

Growing up, any time we were sick my parents would push us to constantly drink water to flush the sickness out of us. There is definitely science behind this. It helps your body have the hydration it needs to fight the illness. It can even help us feel better and give us more energy while we are ill.

Do not wait until you are sick to give your body what it needs to function. Keep drinking water and do something easy and good for your body every day.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.



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