30
Jul

Why Drinking Plenty of Water is Important All Year Round

Samuel Holmes Read 552 times

Why Drinking Plenty of Water is Important All Year Round


It seems like every newspaper, magazine or TV programme is telling us we need to drink lots of water to stay hydrated, but what does this actually mean?

Our bodies are made mostly of water. When you think of all the blood flowing through our hearts and around our bodies and how our eyes and mouths need moisture, not to mention how much we sweat, it’s easy to see fluids keep us going. All parts of our bodies need plenty of moisture to work well. Our kidneys clean our blood and flush impurities out in urine. Our brains are a jelly-like substance and need liquid to function. Without a good supply of fluids to our brains, we can get headaches, even confused, or dizzy. Our joints and muscles need fluids to help them move freely and our bowels need liquid to keep things running comfortably. Our skin needs plenty of moisture to keep it flexible and soft and help prevent pressure sores and ulcers.

 

How much is enough? – aim for champagne!

urine colour chart

It seems our bodies need plenty of fluids. Eight glasses of water a day is a commonly suggested amount. Not very appealing for many of us but it isn’t strictly necessary to drink plain water. There’s nothing wrong with a good cup of tea, after all, many of us have been drinking tea since childhood.  It refreshes us and a chat over a cuppa has solved many a problem!

Age UK recommend drinking 6 to 8 cups of liquid a day. This can be made up of any drink you like, although alcohol doesn’t count. In fact, it’s a good idea to drink extra non-alcoholic liquids if you drink alcohol. Plenty of tonic with the gin, or a glass of water before bed will help counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

You can also include liquids in the food you eat if you find it difficult to drink large amounts. Soups, stews, fruit, vegetables and salads all have a high water content and contribute towards good hydration.

How do we know if we are drinking the right amount? The best way is to look at your urine. If it is the colour of champagne, you are doing well. If it is the colour of lager, you need to drink more. So the paler it is the better. If it has a strong smell and is dark yellow try increasing your fluids. If it doesn’t improve or you have other symptoms then see your doctor.

Other tell-tale signs you are not drinking enough are headaches, low mood, lethargy, getting confused easily or having dry eyes or skin. Again, these can also be symptoms of various illnesses so if they persist see your doctor.

 

What stops people drinking enough?

Most of us find it easy to drink a good amount during the day, but we know many older people don’t drink enough. There could be many reasons.

 

Appetite

Our appetite tends to decrease as we get older or if we have been ill. Little and often is the key here, so you don’t make yourself feel full. If you have a very small appetite, perhaps try drinking between meals rather than at the same time as eating. Taking frequent sips is better than drinking a whole glassful in a few minutes.

People with small appetites or memory problems can sometimes forget to drink and that’s where home care services can help. The Radfield Home Care team are trained to look out for clients who need encouragement to drink and can incorporate specific hydration tasks on their care plans which make sure their carers make sure that a drink is at hand and provide support to drink it if necessary.

 

Incontinence

Bladder problems are a common reason why people become reluctant to drink good quantities. According to Age UK, more than 2.5 million people over 60 in the UK suffer from some degree of urinary incontinence. In men, prostate problems can increase frequency, especially at night. In women, childbirth and gynaecological problems can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, which can then cause leakage during exercise or when sneezing, laughing or coughing and make it harder to keep control of a full bladder. It becomes tempting to avoid drinking before long journeys or periods of activity. Pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen the muscles, and need only take a few minutes a day to be effective for this type of incontinence.

These days, there’s a wide range of products designed to cope with mild incontinence in men and women, which are discreet, comfortable and stop smells and leaks. The main brands: Tena (https://www.tena.co.uk) and Always  (https://www.alwaysdiscreet.co.uk/en-gb) offer free samples, lots of advice and details of exercises on their websites. Their products are also available in chemists and supermarkets or you can buy them online.

More severe incontinence is caused by a whole range of factors. Strokes can affect the part of the brain, which controls the bladder, and bowel and some medication can affect control too. Again there’s a variety of products to help with this available in shops or online. Age UK (https://www.ageukincontinence.co.uk/advice/introduction), have advice and a shop on their website. They also have an information guide on Managing Incontinence which you can order free from the Age UK advice line on 0800 169 6565.

If you develop incontinence you should see your doctor to check the cause and to see if there is any suitable treatment available. Some conditions such as an overactive bladder can be treated with medication.

Regardless of the cause of incontinence, drinking less won’t help and in fact can make things worse. Drinking sufficient fluids can help you avoid cystitis or Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and, if you have a UTI then drinking plenty can help flush the bacteria which cause it from your system. Again, it is important to see your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection, such as burning or pain on urinating, or blood in your urine.

 

Mobility

For some of us, just holding a cup or glass can be difficult. If you have stiff hands or wrists, then look out for slim mugs or glasses. Consider melamine cups if you could drop it easily or two handled mugs with a lid and spout if you are prone to spilling drinks. If you use a walker around the house, consider fitting a special tray with a cup holder so you can safely take your drink from kitchen to living room.

As we age and become less mobile the practicalities of going to the loo can become a problem. If we find it hard to stand in a queue, then drinking less to avoid using public toilets when we are out can seem like a sensible precaution. An alternative would be to use the disabled toilet, but sometimes these are locked. You can buy a RADAR key for a few pounds from mobility shops or Age UK to unlock these facilities and avoid a queue.

Getting in and out of a chair or bed can take time if you have arthritis or had a stroke for instance, and making sure you have the right equipment in place can make a real difference. Using a walking frame for support, or keeping a commode or urine bottle handy and using a frame around the loo and a raised toilet seat can all make it easier to get to and use the toilet. If you are worried about not getting out of bed soon enough or not waking up in time, then absorbent bed pads would be useful.

Some women like to use a urine director (like a funnel) so they can urine standing up. This can be a great help if you have bad knees or hips. It is also handy if you like going out in the countryside but either avoid doing so or don’t drink in the hope of not needing to go before you find a loo. There are a wide range of these gadgets available and with some trial and error and a bit of practice, they are easy to use and can be a real godsend. All you need then is a handy tree!

 

Warm Weather

drink tip adviceBeing well hydrated is beneficial for good health and especially so in warm weather. We perspire to keep cool, and need to drink more to make up for what we lose in sweat on a hot day. It doesn’t always need to be water; in fact, an ice-lolly could be just the ticket as Radfield’s clients found out when they were treated to free lollies, delivered to them in their homes by the staff. Radfield’s carers were also not left out and the company provided a summer uniform and free water bottles to all of their dedicated team working in the community in the recent heatwave.

If you, or someone you care for, is reluctant to drink enough, it is worth asking why and exploring the underlying cause. In many situations it will be possible to overcome the problems or find ways of coping with drinking the right amount. And remember: aim for champagne not lager!

If you or a loved one would like help in managing hydration, continence or mobility or would just like a bit of support to stay independent then contact Radfield Home Care. We can advise you on the equipment available, which items will suit your needs and where to buy it. We offer personalised care by our well trained and caring staff for as long and as often as you need.

RHC Bexhill members with water bottles

Pictured (left to right): Radfield Home Care Bexhill, Hastings & Battle carers  D. Langford and S. Lingwood with their water bottles

Info sources:

 


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