Drinks on Me

I am not a big drinker. Most days, I need to remind myself to drink liquids to stay healthy and hydrated. A normal part of aging, I have learned, is that I don't register thirst the same way I did when I was younger. A friend told me she drinks more water if she has a straw, and I find that is true for me as well. Then I read that pursing your lips to drink from a straw causes mouth wrinkles. You just can't win, can you? 

I do drink my share of coffee (some might say too much), but I can't justify the expense of buying my cups of Joe out. That may be partly because I am older. A  study by Accounting Principals showed younger office workers spend an average of $25 on coffee each week, while those 45-plus spend $14. (Still, $14 is more than I spend.)

While I do rely heavily on caffeine to get me through my busy days—my home brew, sipped from a trusty, reusable mug—I don't buy the energy drinks that claim to boost your metabolism for five hours or more. My peers, and even those older than I, however, seem to be a different story. According to the Wall Street Journal, the high-caffeine shots—usually $2 or $3 each—are, surprisingly, being consumed by an older audience. Energy shots come in compact bottles, making them portable and quick to drink down when you feel that slump coming on. My friend's 60-something father-in-law drinks one before exercising for a little extra “oomph.”

I would have assumed that energy drinks would be most popular in dormitories and in the cabs of 18 wheelers, but one company is giving out samples at AARP conventions and another is distributing coupons in doctors' offices. The FDA doesn’t regulate nutritional supplements, so I can't say if the caffeine-herb-chemical mix actually does more than give you a jolt, but the disclaimer says the drinks are not for kids.

Could these little bottles of energy be having an impact on soda consumption? An article at theatlantic.com suggests soda drinking is on the decline while water consumption is up by 38 percent in the last 15 years. Many of us are trying to get that oft-touted 64 ounces a day. But who is to say we need eight glasses of water each day? I remember a show with humorist Andy Rooney asking, “When did Americans get so thirsty?” Most of us likely get enough water from the tap, the teapot and the foods we eat during the day, so just drink when you’re thirsty, unless your health care provider tells you otherwise. The straw is your call.