Drink up: Seniors at higher risk for medical problems if not properly hydrated

SUN CITY WEST, Ariz. – Now that the triple-digit heat is here, it is critical that seniors keep hydrated to maintain their health and avoid possibly fatal medical complications, says a Sun City West family physician.

As temperatures increase, Richard Worhacz, MD, sees more seniors come into the  Banner Health Same-Day Care Clinic, 14416 W. Meeker Blvd., with health problems that can be linked to dehydration. Those problems include confusion, irritability, low blood pressure, headaches, fatigue and dizziness when standing.

“What people don’t know is that so many times, these problems can be solved through drinking some water. I can’t stress how important it is to drink at least eight glasses of water every day,’’ Worhacz said.

Chronic dehydration can lead to a compromised immune system, constipation, seizures, kidney failure, heat injury and even death, he said.

Seniors are at higher risk for dehydration because as people age, they are less likely to recognize that they are thirsty since their taste buds don’t function as before.

Compounding the problem is that many seniors are on medications such as diuretics, laxatives and high-blood-pressure medications, all of which can cause more frequent urination or perspiration.

In addition to drinking 64 ounces of water, Worhacz also suggests:

  • Add variety: Add lemon to water or mix in some fruit juice to jazz up plain water
  • Eat water-rich foods: Fruits such as watermelon have a higher water content; veggies such as celery and cucumber also offer some hydration
  • Make it convenient: Keep a glass or bottle of water on a bedside table or near a favorite chair; carry a water bottle with you when you go outside. Keep a container of water in your case, in case of emergencies.

Banner Medical Group (BMG), Banner Health's employed provider group, is a team of more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practitioners across 65 specialties and more than 3,500 total employees located in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. BMG providers serve patients in a variety of care settings. BMG primary care providers like pediatricians, internists, family medicine physicians and obstetricians/gynecologists staff Banner Health Centers and Clinics, and BMG specialists care for patients in both clinic and hospital settings.