Helping seniors stay hydrated

January 26, 2018

drink-water.jpegIn the winter months, when you aren’t feeling summer’s heat, it can be easy to forget that you need to drink.

Seniors can suffer from a decreased thirst sensation, causing the body to ignore signals that it’s time to drink. Medications and health conditions such as incontinence can increase water losses as well – and some seniors with incontinence issues may intentionally cut fluid intake to try to avoid accidents. Chronic dehydration is a serious health risk to seniors and can contribute to kidney stones, urinary tract infections, blood clot issues, fainting, rapid pulse rate and lowered blood pressure.

Dry winter air, indoors and out, makes it even more important to keep hydration at a healthy level.

Here are some tips for making sure your loved one is getting enough water to maintain healthy hydration.

Check with your healthcare team to find out if medications, such as diuretics, or health conditions will impact the amount of water your loved one should safely consume.

  • Drink on a schedule – When a person feels thirsty, they are already becoming dehydrated. Set up a schedule for drinking a glass of water every few hours throughout the day
  • Portion out a day’s water – How much should a person drink every day? Multiply the person’s weight by 2/3 and that will equal the number of ounces they should consume. Measure out that amount into pitchers or water bottles each morning so water consumption can be tracked.
  • Try water first – Our bodies can misinterpret thirst as hunger. A small glass of water may be the answer rather than a snack.
  • Mix up the menu – Milk, fruit juice, tea and coffee can all count toward daily fluid intake as long as they are part of your loved one’s healthy diet plan. Avoid sugary sodas and alcohol.
  • Eat water – Drinking plain water isn’t the only option. Many fresh fruits and vegetables are high in water content, including watermelon, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, tomatoes, celery and cucumbers. Soups and fruit sauces are other good options.
  • Watch for signs of dehydration – Headaches, confusion, moodiness, rapid pulse and fatigue can all be signs of dehydration. If you get the OK from your healthcare team, you can keep sports drinks, Pedialyte or other emergency hydration products on hand to help seniors recover from dehydration symptoms quickly.