Now that summer has officially begun, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated. The old adage tells us to “drink eight glasses of water a day” to prevent dehydration–a condition that occurs when the body does not have enough water to execute normal functions, such as maintaining body temperature, protective sensitive tissues, and eliminating waste. One study found that approximately 75% of adults in the United States suffer from chronic dehydration despite having consumed approximately “8 servings of hydrating beverages per day.”

The “8-Cup” Rule of Thumb

For those adults living in a moderate temperate climate, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, stipulates that men should drink an average of about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids per day, while women should consume about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids per day. These figures may seem high, remember that we get our liquids from a number of sources, including foods (watermelon and spinach are almost entirely made up of water) and other beverages. In addition, consuming alcoholic or caffeinated beverages can offset the body’s net fluid intake.

While 8 cups per day is a good benchmark, there is no scientific evidence to substantiate it. Environmental as well as body-specific factors dictate the daily amount of liquid that each person requires. So while it’s a good idea to aspire to 8 cups a day, you may find you or your loved one requires more or less.

Special Advice for Seniors

Seniors need to be extra vigilant when it comes to staying hydrated, especially in the warmer weather. It’s important to remember that dehydration in seniors can be caused by factors other than low liquid consumption, including loss of blood, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, and can be a side effect of other medications such as diuretics.

As Dana Larsen points out in her Senior Living Blog, dehydration in seniors can lead to much bigger problems, including urinary tract infections and low blood pressure. She recommends four strategies to help prevent dehydration in older adults:

Encourage seniors to take 8 oz. of fluid with each dose of medication.
Make water easily accessible throughout the day be keeping water coolers and bottles around
Offer fluids on a regular basis throughout the day
Get creative and concoct “mocktails” (minus the alcohol and caffeine, of course) to encourage fluid consumption.

We hope these tips will help you and your loved ones stay properly hydrated. Wishing everyone an enjoyable!