Learn About Aging, Thirst and Dehydration



As people age, their sense of thirst can become less strong. Older adults who don't feel thirsty drink less water and other fluids. This can lead to dehydration.


In general, women are encouraged to drink at least 9 cups (2.2 liters) and men at least 13 cups (3 liters) of water and other fluids each day. However, some people need to drink less because of health conditions like heart failure or kidney disease.


Signs of dehydration:

  • A sticky tongue

  • Headache

  • Muscle cramps

  • Passing less urine

  • Passing dark urine

  • Sweating less or not at all

  • Confusion


Hot weather puts older adults at risk of dehydration. On hot days, older adults can stay hydrated by drinking more fluids.


Illnesses that cause fever, diarrhea or vomiting also put older adults at risk of dehydration.

If left untreated, dehydration can be life-threatening. If an older adults can't drink enough to replace lost fluids, health professionals can replace fluids quickly.