I love that commercial for the cellphone company in which the guy is hanging out with the children and asking them questions like, “Is it better to be slow or fast?” or “Is it better having less or more?” The kids give answers that are precious and usually spin into extreme jibber-jabber.
According to the commercials, it’s always better to have more and be fast. That’s not always the case as we age, though, is it? Add the hot, humid weather that we experience in South Georgia, and one tends to really slow down.
Plus, when we should be getting more fluids into our body, we tend to put in less. Why? This can lead to dehydration and heat-related illnesses, which can lead to all sorts of health problems and, ultimately, be fatal if not treated properly.
There may be several reasons attributed to dehydration in older adults. As we age, the body’s ability to conserve water is reduced. Also, our thirst senses become less acute, and taste buds don’t work like they once did. Food and drink don’t taste as inviting, and our ability to respond to changes in temperature is decreased. Mix these ingredients together, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Stir in a few things like medication use, having a cold or fever, chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and changes in hormones, and the situation only gets worse. Talk about moving slow!
You can decrease your odds of becoming dehydrated by doing the following:
• If you already have an exercise routine — and you should — exercise in the early morning or later in the evening when the day is not at peak heat levels.
• Wear sunscreen, light clothing and a hat when you are outdoors. Sunburn stops your body from properly cooling itself down.
• Move your exercise regimen indoors when it is too hot or humid outside.
• Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, even when you are not thirsty (remember, the senses that detect thirst are decreased as we age). Drinks like coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks contain ingredients that are dehydrating and should be avoided when possible. Plain, old water still is your best friend. You also can buy flavor enhancers that can be added to your water to make it more appealing to your taste buds. Some sports drinks contain electrolytes and carbohydrates and can be useful during hot weather, too.
• It doesn’t hurt to check with your doctor as well to make sure you are making the right preparations for the seasonal heat.
Summer is coming and we want to keep moving fast, as the commercial says. So add more fluids to your diet and press on. Beats tying a cheetah to your back!
DeLong is the executive director for The Suites at Station Exchange. Email Rich at Suites.StationExchange@gmail.com.