Seniors have a higher
risk of dehydration
Older adults are more likely to become
dehydrated for several reasons,
Sundberg says. For example, “their
thirst sensation may be decreased
or their kidneys aren’t functioning
properly, so they aren’t able to retain
water. And some people have trouble
with cognition, so they forget to drink.”
Seniors are also more likely to be taking
more medications, including diuretics—
drugs that help lower blood pressure by
flushing sodium and water out of the
Older adults and people with
mobility issues may also purposely limit
how much they drink to save having
to take extra trips to the bathroom. “I
hear that all the time,” Sundberg says.
“People don’t drink anything after
supper even if they’re thirsty because
they can’t get up on their own or it’s too
much work.” (In a case like this, your
healthcare professional can suggest
ways to get you through the night well-hydrated).
As for what to drink to keep your
body running well, some liquids are
definitely better than others (see sidebar).
“I always recommend drinking water
for your thirst and having milk with
your meals,” Sundberg says. Watch out
for that extra cup of coffee loaded with
caffeine, cream and sugar.
And limit fruit juice to half a cup of
unsweetened juice a day. “It’s extra
sugar,” she says. “We know that sugar
consumption is too high for most people
so we don’t want to overdo it on the
juice. We’d rather see people eat fruit or
vegetables to get their fibre and some
fluids rather than just fill up on juice.”
Kids need water, too. A typical four-
year-old needs 1,500 to 1,800 ml (six to
As for beer, wine and other alcoholic
beverages, they don’t count as part of
the fluid you need every day. Alcohol
is a diuretic, which means it actually
removes water from your body—it
doesn’t add it.
“Older adults have lower safer
drinking limits because their bodies
are more sensitive to the toxic effects of
If you have health issues or you’re
taking different medications, you may
have other risk factors around alcohol.
So turn on the tap and fill up your
water bottle. Maybe add a squeeze of
lemon and keep sipping throughout the
day. “You don’t have to drink everything
all at once,” Sundberg says.
If you’re not sure whether you’re
getting enough fluids, spend a day or
two making a note of how much you
are drinking. And pay attention at the
other end of the process. “Make sure
your urine is light yellow,” she says.
“That’s a pretty good sign. Sometimes
if it’s too dark, you might be a little bit
How much liquid do you need in a day?
Adults need to consume 2. 25 to 3 L
(nine to 12 cups) of fluids a day. The
bigger you are, the more you need.
What are the best liquids to drink?
• Unsweetened pop or sparkling water
• Unsweetened juice (no more than 125
ml per day)
• Low-fat milk
• Decaf tea and coffee, herbal teas
• Low-sodium broths.
Tips to stay hydrated:
• Drink a glass of water when you wake
• Carry a water bottle with you
throughout the day and sip often
• Drink a glass of water before each meal
• Drink water before, during and after
Can you eat your way to hydration?
No, but most fruits and vegetables have
What about booze?
high water content, as well as the fibre
that your body needs every day. You
could eat an orange, grapefruit or apple
instead of having a glass of juice.
Drinking alcohol doesn’t count as part
of the fluid you need to stay hydrated. If
you do drink alcohol, Low Risk Drinking
Guidelines suggest that you:
• Drink slowly and alternate with nonalcoholic drinks
• Have no more than two drinks in any
• Go a day or two a week without
• Women have no more than 10 drinks
a week with no more than two drinks
a day, most days
• Men have no more than 15 drinks a
week with no more than three drinks
a day, most days.