My dad sent me the following from Arnaldo Liechtenstein, a physician at the University of Sao Paolo. It’s something we all know and do with varying degrees of success. I didn’t realize that the sense of thirst diminishes by age 60. Sheesh. A word to the wise—stay well-watered.
“Whenever I teach clinical medicine to students in the fourth year of medicine, I ask the following question:
What are the causes of mental confusion in the elderly?
Some offer: “Tumors in the head”. I answer: No!
Others suggest: “Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s”. I answer again: No!
With each rejection of their answers, their responses dry up.
They are even more open-mouthed when I list the three most common causes [of mental confusion]: uncontrolled diabetes, urinary infections, dehydration.
It may sound like a joke, but it isn’t. People over 60 generally stop feeling thirsty and consequently stop drinking fluids.
When no one is around to remind them to drink fluids, they quickly dehydrate. Dehydration is severe and affects the entire body It may cause abrupt mental confusion, a drop in blood pressure, increased heart palpitations, angina (chest pain), coma and even death. But there are more complications. Although they are dehydrated, they don’t feel like drinking water, because their internal balance mechanisms don’t work very well.
People over 60 have a lower water reserve. This is part of the natural aging process. People over 60 years old dehydrate easily, not only because they have a smaller water supply, but also because they do not feel the lack of water in the body. Although people over 60 may look healthy, the performance of reactions and chemical functions can damage their entire body.
So here are two alerts:
1) Get into the habit of drinking liquids. Liquids include water, juices, teas, coconut water, milk, soups, and water-rich fruits, such as watermelon, melon, peaches and pineapple; Oranges and tangerines also work. The important thing is that, every two hours, you must drink some liquid. Remember this!
2) Alert for family members: constantly offer fluids to people over 60. At the same time, observe them. If you realize that they are rejecting liquids and, from one day to the next, they are irritable, breathless or display a lack of attention, these are almost certainly recurrent symptoms of dehydration.”
Now, go get a glass of water. Drink up!