It’s a serious health issue affecting millions of aging Americans each year – but more times than not, it’s also easily avoidable. As the dog days of summer are quickly setting in, the thermometer continues to rise and the threat of dehydration for Sonoma County seniors looms larger and larger.

Having an increased awareness is key to helping seniors avoid the medical problems and hospitalizations that are a direct result of dehydration. These cases continue to make headlines every year, but they don’t have to.

Seniors are bombarded with lists of things they can do to decrease their risk of health issues like heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s, but dehydration is among the most common, most serious dangers that’s easily forgotten. Seniors are particularly susceptible to dehydration because they don’t drink or eat as much as younger people and their bodies don’t retain as much water to begin with. This means that elderly individuals typically take in less fluid over the course of the day and lose it more quickly, which is a dangerous combination, particularly in the summer.

A recent study by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research found that seniors are far more likely to experience adverse health effects related to dehydration than younger people. The report shows the average adult loses more than ten cups of water per day and states that thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water, especially among older adults who have less acute senses.

Most times, dehydration can be easily prevented by paying attention to simple dietary measures and looking out for early warning signs. According to the Mayo Foundation, some of the most telling signs of dehydration include:

• Dizziness
• Blurred Vision
• Dry, sticky mouth
• Unusual sleepiness or tired feelings
• Decreased urine output
• Muscle weakness
• Sudden or persistent headaches

The hottest days of summer are still to come and seniors along with their families and/or friends need to make sure they are properly hydrated and doing all they can to stay healthy and happy through these long, hot summer days. If you have an aging loved one in the area, make sure they have the help and the resources they need to beat the heat.