The best hydrating drinks for seniors are both hydrating and refreshing. While water is considered the “gold standard” for hydration, some seniors find it boring as a beverage.
Fortunately, many cool and cooling options exist for older adults who want to stay hydrated. Keep reading for drinks that can help prevent dehydration in the elderly.
Why Is Hydration Important?
It’s no secret that staying hydrated is important. However, it’s especially crucial for seniors to have an adequate fluid intake.
Roughly calculate hydration needs by taking one-third of your body weight and aim to drink that much in ounces—a 150-pound person would want to drink a minimum of 50 ounces of water daily. The body needs enough water and other hydrating fluids each day to perform its functions properly.
A recent study actually found that staying hydrated may slow the aging process. Although the study was conducted with mice models, it has implications for human hydration. This study suggested that lifelong dehydration may actually take years off the lifespan.
Dehydration in seniors is especially serious and can complicate common health conditions, such as:
- Blood clots
- Digestive issues like constipation
- Heat stroke
- Heart problems
- Injuries, infections, and impaired immunity
- Kidney problems, including kidney failure and kidney stones
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
In general, it’s easier to become dehydrated as you age. Thirst signals can diminish with age, meaning the body loses touch with its natural reminders to “drink up.” Body composition and activity levels can also change with age, making estimating the average fluid amount a person needs is increasingly difficult.
To make matters more complicated, taking multiple medications can alter the body’s fluid balance. Memory problems can also make it difficult to stay hydrated throughout the day. Swallowing or chewing problems, such as dysphagia, may mean water and fluids need to be modified by a caretaker.
Despite these complications, cool and hydrating drinks make drinking the recommended amount of fluids easier each day. Integrating these types of drinks throughout the day, especially during the warmer months, can help to keep the body temperature and body fluids at the right levels.
7 Best Hydrating Drinks for Seniors
Whether you’re looking out for elderly parents, patients, or just curious about yourself, here are the top hydrating drinks to help prevent dehydration in older adults.
Remember that you can incorporate all of these throughout the day if you choose! It’s much easier to under-hydrate than it is to over-hydrate. As an adult man or woman, you should get about 12-15 cups of water per day, which can include the following options.
Sparkling or Fruit-Infused Water
If you’re not a big fan of plain water, make it a bit “fancy.” Keeping sparkling water on hand can help you drink more water, especially if you want to stay hydrated but regular water seems like a boring beverage choice.
Fruits naturally contain higher water content, and adding them to water makes it even more hydrating. Visually, fruit-infused water looks stunning and delicious, which can help appetite-impaired seniors get interested in drinking more water. Plus, it looks pretty at events, such as senior center or senior living facility gatherings.
Try adding the following fruit pairings to your water to multiply your hydration naturally:
- Cucumber + mint
- Apple + cinnamon
- Lime + strawberry
- Orange + kiwi
- Lemon + blueberry or raspberry
Although it’s not necessarily the cure-all some people make it out to be, coconut water is still an excellent source of hydration. As its name suggests, coconut water is mostly made of water, accompanied by various vitamins and minerals that come from the coconut.
Be sure to seek out unflavored varieties that are low in sugar and calories. Coconut water also contains potassium, which can contribute to better heart health by helping to lower blood pressure.
100% Fruit Juice
Many fruits have naturally high water contents, which makes them an obvious choice for boosting hydration. Fruits that make especially hydrating juices include:
- Citrus, including oranges, lemons, and grapefruit
If you’re choosing store-bought varieties instead of homemade juice, be sure to seek out 100% juice with no added sugar. Fruits are nutrient-rich and high in natural sugars, which means they are nutritious and naturally sweet with no added sugar needed.
100% Vegetable Juice
Like fruits, many vegetables are very high in water content. Particularly hydrating vegetables include:
- Squash, such as butternut and pumpkin
If interested, you can make veggie-based blends at home with a blender, strainer, or juicer. If you’re pressed on time, brands like V8 make 100% vegetable juice varieties, including low sodium, spicy hot, and high fiber options.
Don’t like veggie-flavored drinks? There’s still a way to sneak them in! Blending celery or spinach leaves into a smoothie along with your fruits of choice is a great way to boost hydration. Bananas and pineapples are common fruity favorites to add to smoothies and contain about 70-90% water content.
Most smoothies use a naturally hydrating liquid as the base, such as water, coconut water, milk, or plant-based alternatives. Blending these beverages with fruits and vegetables makes for an especially hydrating morning meal (or snack for any time of day).
Milk may not seem like an obvious choice for hydration, but it is actually one of the best drinks for seniors. Not only is it high in nutrients seniors need, like calcium and protein, but it also contains nearly 90% water content.
The good news about milk? Varieties from whole to skim contain plenty of water, so you can choose the type that fits your lifestyle best while still staying hydrated. Avoid flavored varieties, like strawberry or chocolate milk, when possible as they often contain unnecessary added sugars.
Low- or No Added Sugar Electrolyte Drinks
Electrolytes are key to optimal hydration since they interact with various bodily fluids, including water. They may sound like complicated chemicals, but you’ve probably heard of a few electrolytes before. For example, sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphate all operate as electrolytes in the body.
At the cellular level, electrolytes work with water and fluids to clear waste and keep organs, nerves, and blood vessels functioning properly. As a result, an electrolyte imbalance can be dangerous. Seniors are considered particularly prone to electrolyte deficiency since vitamins and minerals may not be as well-utilized in the body as they were at a younger age.
Popular re-made drink powder mixes, such as Liquid I.V., may be able to help boost your electrolytes and contribute to your hydration status. Although sugar can help increase the absorbability of electrolytes, you’ll want to look for beverages, products, and electrolyte drinks for seniors that keep added sugar to a minimum.
In a pinch, low-sugar sports drinks that contain electrolytes may be able to prevent symptoms of over-activity and some signs of dehydration, such as muscle cramping.
Recap: Best Hydrating Drinks for Seniors
Adequate hydration is always important, especially for seniors. Leaning on these seven hydration options—including water, water infusions, milk, and produce-packed smoothies—can help lower the risks of health complications and improve overall well-being. Give one (or all) of these cooling and hydrating drinks a try today!
Bruno C, Collier A, Holyday M, Lambert K. Interventions to Improve Hydration in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2021;13(10):3640.
Cleveland Clinic. Drink Up: Dehydration is an Often Overlooked Health Risk for Seniors. Health.clevelandclinic.org. Published November 2018.
Gordon B, Klemm S. How Much Water Do You Need? Eatright.org. Published June 2022.
National Council on Aging. How to Stay Hydrated for Better Health. Ncoa.org. Published August 2021.
Wolfram T. Coconut Water Is It What Its Cracked Up to Be. Eatright.org. Published July 2017.