How to Keep Seniors Hydrated

An article how to keep seniors hydrated even if they refuse or forget to drink water

Water is a crucial component of our cells and tissues, as well as regulating body temperature, producing metabolic waste products, and carrying nutrients throughout the body. Dehydration can have devastating effects on health, including possible death in extreme cases.

In this article we will discuss how caregivers and family members can help the people they are taking care of to drink water and stay hydrated when they refuse or forget to do so. We will look at the importance of proper hydration for seniors, the risks associated with dehydration, and effective strategies for encouraging them to drink enough water. 

Early signs of dehydration

Recognizing the early indications that a senior needs to increase their fluid intake is vital for family caregivers. Remember that thirst isn’t always a good sign because someone who feels thirsty can already be dehydrated. Headache, constipation, muscle cramps, dry lips and tongue, and drowsiness or lethargy are some of the first symptoms to watch. Another sign is the color of the urine, which for someone who is adequately hydrated, should be clear or light yellow.

What are the signs of severe dehydration?

Little or no urination, dark-colored urine, dry skin that stays folded when pinched, Irritability, lightheadedness, or confusion, low blood pressure, rapid breathing and heartbeat, low pulse, cold hands and feet.
As a general rule, aim to balance the fluid intake and output. A senior should increase their fluid intake if they are perspiring or urinating more regularly.

How to avoid dehydration in seniors?

To avoid dehydration, seniors should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids per day. These fluids should be mainly made up of water and unsweetened vitamin-enhanced juice products without added sugar or calories. Other beverages, such as tea or coffee, are not recommended because they contain caffeine which can increase anxiety symptoms in people with dementia. In addition, it is important to monitor for other medications or supplements that may be contributing to the person’s anxiety. 

Hydration and dementia

Dehydration is a serious health concern among the elderly with dementia, as they often forget to drink water or refuse to do so. This can lead to severe health problems, including confusion and fatigue. It is, therefore, important to ensure that the elderly with dementia stay hydrated by drinking enough water.

Several strategies can help encourage the elderly with dementia to drink water and stay hydrated. These include creating a routine, offering reminders, providing specialized cups and bottles, and providing incentives. By utilizing these strategies, caregivers can ensure that their elderly parents or patients stay hydrated and maintain their health. 

Dehydration without adequate hydration can result in increased confusion, dizziness, and constipation, which can be further complicated due to the inability of the person’s body to eliminate toxins effectively. This is especially true in cases where a caregiver is trying to switch from a high-calorie liquid diet to a low-calorie liquid diet or vice versa. Additionally, dehydration that goes undetected for long periods can lead to electrolyte imbalances which are sometimes fatal if not treated immediately.


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