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Dehydration is an issue for people over 50: Here's how to fix it

Well, this isn't good: A large percentage of Americans don't drink enough water, and dehydration is especially common as people age. In fact up to 28% of older Americans aren't meeting their hydration needs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even notes that water intake is "significantly lower" in older adults.

Dehydration can lead to a range of health issues, registered dietitian Scott Keatley, co-owner of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy, tells Yahoo Life. "Water is the medium in which most of our metabolic processes take place," he says. "We have body systems to protect us from deadly dehydration, but a decrease in body fluid by only 2% decreases athletic performance, cardiovascular function and the body’s ability to regulate temperature."

Many older Americans aren't drinking enough water every day. (Photo: Canva)
Aging gives us reason enough to worry about getting wrinkled — don't let under-hydration compound the problem. (Photo: Canva)

Luckily, dehydration is easily treatable by getting in more fluids. It can be a little tricky to figure out your exact hydration needs, but the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recommends aiming for the following goals:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men

  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

Worth noting: Those recommended numbers include hydration you get from water, other beverages and food.

To make sure you're staying hydrated, Keatley recommends that you "start by having a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, which not only have valuable nutrients but a significant amount of water." Naturally, you'll want to ensure you're drinking plenty of water — and coffee and tea can also help you reach your hydration goals, he says. "If my clients are very active or sweat more than the average person, we discuss increasing intake based on their specific needs," Keatley says.

Doing something as simple as carrying around a water bottle with you (and actually drinking from it throughout the day) can make a big difference, too. Just know this, per Keatley: "You don’t need a two-gallon jug to meet your needs." Instead, he suggests getting a bottle that can hold up to a liter or so of liquid. "Filled up twice [it] will help you meet your hydration needs for the day and is small enough to be used if you go on long walks or hit the gym," he says.

Bottles with motivational time markers can also help you stay on schedule, Keatley says, adding, "Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder to take a little bit of time and have a beverage."

We like Arcana's Arc bottle —it's sleek and features time markers, ranging from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to help keep you on track during the busiest hours of the day. It's also made from BPA-free Tritan plastic for durability and a lightweight feel.


Arcana Arc Bottle

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This frosted Tritan bottle is BPA-free and features convenient time markers to help keep you on track for optimal hydration during your day.
$18 at Amazon

To use this 32-ounce bottle as designed, just fill it up at 8 a.m. and do your best to stick with the recommended time markers. Around lunchtime, refill it and continue sipping until 6 p.m. Obviously, you can drink faster and use your bottle without sticking to the schedule — it's just there to help.

Keep in mind, though, that you don't need to go overboard with your hydration. "There is a point at which you’re not benefiting yourself by chugging water," Keatley says. His recommendation: Set a daily goal and "see how that works for you."

If you feel like you're not doing your best at hydrating regularly right now, take steps to fix it. Luckily, it's possible to turn dehydration around, and pretty quickly.