3 Tips To Stay Hydrated & Safe – Earth’s Hottest Year Ever
Did you know that everything you do – and how well you do it – depends on a compound of hydrogen and oxygen atoms?
“Look at yourself in the mirror. You are 75 percent H2O. Behind your every action, every thought, the way you feel, your mood, even your appearance, there is water –– either enough or not enough,” says Jamie McKinley, Consonus Healthcare’s director of clinical services for the Midwest and California.
As a physical therapist and certified exercise expert for aging adults, Jamie knows the critical importance of staying hydrated –– especially right now. Why?
- On July 3, this year, our planet hit its highest temperature in 125,000 years. Then on July 4th, we broke it again. Scientists say 2023 will be the hottest year on record.
- Heat is the number one weather-related killer and it strikes fast. The CDC says each year heat is to blame for more than 700 deaths, almost 70,000 ER visits, and more than 9,000 hospitalizations.
- Hot weather causes or worsens cardiovascular and respiratory complications, renal failure, and electrolyte imbalance.
The Most At-Risk Group
People over 60 are most at risk of heat-related complications and death.
“We know from our work with older adults, they simply aren’t able to recognize when they need to hydrate,” says McKinley. “Compared to younger individuals, older adults naturally have less water in their bodies, partially due to loss of muscle mass. Older adults also have a diminished sense of thirst, which is the first sign of dehydration.”
A hotter planet means we need to be heat-smart and water-wise. So here are 3 tips from our experts at Consonus Healthcare.
#1 Know The Forecast & How To Prepare
Yes, we all joke they’re not always right, but it’s smart to listen to your local meteorologist. Pay attention to the terms, “heat advisory” and “heat warning.” These are your signals to prepare.
Scientists are so alarmed about the new norm of scorching temperatures they’ve created some fascinating websites for you to use.
- Heat.gov, for timely and science-based information to understand and reduce the health risks of extreme heat.
- Heat and Health Tracker, for information on the NOAA-supported Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign.
- Weather.gov to see if your area is at risk of an excessive heat event.
#2 Know The Warning Symptoms
Make sure you know the side effects of all your medications. Certain medications and chronic conditions can make it difficult to detect dehydration because they mimic the same symptoms. For example, dry mouth is an early sign of dehydration, but it’s also a side effect of diuretics. Among the other warning signs of dehydration are:
- Muscle cramps
- Rapid heart rate
- Decreased urination
- Dark urine
- Dizziness and mood swings
#3 Know How Much Water To Drink
Seniors, especially those on medications, should always ask their physicians about how much water to drink daily. A general rule is to use the 8 x 8 rule: drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day. This is equal to two liters or half a gallon of water. Be proactive and make it a habit.
Invest in a water bottle you enjoy using and even one that helps you track your daily water intake.
“Water fuels the energy we need to make our muscles move, for our cells to communicate, to regulate our body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate, to think clearly and heal,” says McKinley. “These three tips will help keep all those in check and keep you, living your best life!”