Since our bodies are made up of mostly water it seems we should all know that drinking enough of that clear fluid is a must each and every day. But many of us, me included, forget this simple way of staying healthy. We don’t forget our morning cup of tea or coffee and many of us can’t get through a day without a soda or ice tea, but water — we often forget how important it is for our health.
For women this is even more important since we’re the ones who most often suffer from Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) and our chances of having one increase with our age. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, many factors of aging greatly increase our chances of becoming dehydrated and developing an infection. Diabetes, a loss of mobility, kidney stones and bowel incontinence are just a few of the contributing factors to a UTI.
Signs and Symptoms
Younger people often have multiple symptoms when they are developing a UTI, but older people no longer exhibit these symptoms or they don’t develop until the infection is rampant. Often the only one our loved ones notice is an increasing state of confusion or change in our mental state. Chills, night sweats, fatigue and general body pain are also signs of a UTI.
Water is the simple way to flush your “pipes” and keep your body working well. So why do we stop drinking enough water?
The Complications of Aging
According to the National Institute on Aging, older people often lose their thirst sensation. Also, drinking water means we have to stay mobile enough to get to the bathroom. When we are recovering from an illness or surgery we aren’t as mobile as before. For some elders, a fall in the bathroom can make them wary of falling in the bathroom again. If they don’t drink as much, they won’t have to “go” as much. If we or our loved one suffers from dementia it makes it harder for us to remember to drink. Once an infection sets in, our memory gets worse.
Dear Old Dad and UTIs
My daddy lost his bladder to cancer and now has a bag instead of a bladder. We are so blessed that he’s been cancer free for over 14 years, but not all of those years have been easy. His kidneys are compromised and so he has to drink or he winds up in the hospital.
One thing that has helped is a large insulated plastic drinking cup with a straw and lid. He keeps one full by his chair and even takes it out while he works in the yard. Sipping water through a straw helps to get more water down.
Medline Plus suggests:
- Always drink a full glass of water while taking any medication.
- Soup is very hydrating so have a mug of soup each day for a healthy snack.
- Take sips of water or other fluids between bites at your meal times.
- Always drink plenty of water before exercising or going out-of-doors.
For all of us who are caregivers, we need to be aware of any sudden cognitive changes in our loved ones. Dark or cloudy urine is another signs of a UTI. Lethargy and body aches are two more signs. If incontinence is a factor, just get some adult absorbent briefs to use. And make sure you are drinking your water, too!