Many Seniors Don’t Drink Enough Water: 5 Ways to Help
Many seniors are dehydrated and they don’t realize it. The health risk is very real though. From urinary and kidney problems to seizures and heat exhaustion, seniors who don’t drink enough liquids during the day can face serious health consequences. Problem is, many elderly people, especially those in hospice care in San Mateo and elsewhere, don’t have the desire to eat, much less drink. Then, by the time they actually feel thirsty, they are already dehydrated. It can be tough encouraging them to get the water they need every day, but here are some tips to help.
1. Mix Things Up
While plain water is best, it can get boring when this is the only option. Why not put some fruit or flavoring in a glass of water, or alternate with juice or milk? Just be careful about how much juice you offer, as this can be very high in sugar, a problem for those who suffer from diabetes. In that case, you could cut the juice with water 50/50. If your loved one is craving a cup of coffee or tea, let them have it in moderation, but don’t count these toward their daily fluid intake goal because caffeinated beverages are dehydrating and act as diuretics, points out the Cleveland Clinic.
2. Spread It Out
Many seniors can’t down a full glass of water in one sitting. It makes them feel bloated and uncomfortable and spurs the need to get to the bathroom quickly. Instead, encourage small sips throughout the day, perhaps with a meal, when they take their medications, or after their daily exercises. Fill their favorite bottle, mug or glass with water and make sure it’s near them at all times. Small reminders throughout the day will work much better than telling them to sit down and drink an 8 fluid ounce glass of straight water at once.
3. Experiment With Temperatures
Some seniors are very sensitive to temperature when it comes to their beverages. One person may prefer ice-cold water while another may prefer room-temperature water. Experiment with different ways of serving the water to see what they like best. One reason your loved one may not readily drink water is because it’s warm. Simply adding ice or grabbing a cold bottle from the fridge could turn them around. You could also warm up their juice, make decaf iced coffee with a splash of cream, or add plain soda water to juice so it tastes bubbly, suggests Daily Caring.
Also, experiment with textures. While you don’t want to offer these all the time, smoothies, milkshakes, and sports drinks could be a good option if they are really resisting water. Many times, flavor or texture has a lot to do with the resistance of drinking enough fluids. You may find that they are more agreeable to certain flavors or textures than others. Go with what works best. Finally, try freezing a mix of juice and water into an ice pop so they can suck on that to gradually get their fluids. Present it as a treat and they will be more likely to take it from you.
4. Go Savory
If your senior loved one prefers savory over sweet, try serving them some hot soup broth rather than a sweet or neutral beverage. This is best in cool weather but can be given any time of the year, whether from a can or something homemade on the stove. Be sure to use a low sodium broth, as many seniors are on a strict low-salt diet.
5. Eat Fruit
There are many fruits and vegetables that have lots of water in them, so encouraging them to eat fruits and veggies like watermelon, peaches, grapefruit, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers will help to combat dehydration.
Other Tips to Prevent Dehydration
In addition to getting enough water, there are other ways you can promote hydration in seniors:
- Encourage them to wear breathable materials such as cotton and linen. These materials make it easier for the body to sweat and breathe more naturally. Discourage wearing polyester-based fabrics, rayon, and denim.
- Take frequent breaks if participating in outdoor activities such as gardening or taking a walk. Take frequent breaks, especially in the heat, which can quickly deplete the energy levels of seniors.
- Know what medications (such as diuretics) they are taking that could cause dehydration. Some meds can cause them to get dehydrated faster than normal, so make it a point to understand which medications they are on, and when they take them during the day, so you can increase their fluid intake accordingly.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Our hospice care team is well aware of the risks of dehydration in our patients, which is why we do all we can to encourage fluid intake. To learn more, contact us at 888-978-1306.