10223324 - great tit in flight drinking water from a faucet.

Did you know the state of Maine has oldest population in the country?  Not the largest, but more than their share of the oldest.  There have been some initiatives  going on  there to better serve the aging population that are simple but powerful. Most of the tech innovation I have covered previously  has been by for profit corporations in love with gadgets  and with their own brilliance.  These are honest efforts by local scientific and university communities  to make life better for their own residents.

Someone figured out that 20% of the  elderly population in Maine found the taste of the water unpleasant (even though there were no discernible  problems with it). Our taste buds change as we age and I guess this has something to do with that, but  instead of just studying why, they did something about it.  A program to install ozone and ultraviolet lights filters to make the water taste better was developed. Why is this so important?  If you don’t like taste of the water you may not drink enough of it to prevent the many downside effects of dehydration.

It is a fact that as we age, our bodies contain a smaller percentage of water and yet we don’t feel thirst  as easily.  Warning signs of dehydration that you can read on multiple sources are:

Warning signs include fatigue, dizziness, thirst, dark urine, headaches, dry mouth/nose, dry skin and cramping.

Other lists include other problems with dental disease, kidney stones and impaired cognitive function. I wanted to include a most excellent chart on hydration for the elderly from the European Hydration Institute as it very comprehensive but it says for healthcare profession distribution only. Search for any article on dehydration in the elderly and you will be impressed by the gravity of the impact it has starting even at age 60.

Obviously any medication you are on may also have a diuretic effect. Throw in some  susceptibility to falls and  you can see why this simple commonsense effort to help Maine’s elderly population ( both at home and at facilities) is right on.  I am putting it on my ‘it’s high tech enough for me list’.  A mechanical engineer there is also working on several other  projects including one for a device worn to help prevent hip fractures  in the same vein as how the NFL is looking at preventing concussions.

Most of  the warnings on dehydration in older folks is by clinical people regarding nursing home  residents.  Don’t let your own neglect of your own system own you. If you are comfortable with the idea of being proactive about your health, this is a simple regimen to get into.  If you are reading this with your filtered water beside you in a non BPA container, here’s a toast to your good sense!