Drinks, dehydration and dementia: helping seniors drink enough fluids

At any age, it’s important for our health that we drink enough fluids during the day. That includes seniors, who need to keep their fluid intake up just as much as the rest of us.

If we become dehydrated, it can lead to headaches, feeling faint, confusion, urinary tract infections and constipation.

The recommended fluid intake is between 1.5 and 2 litres a day. That’s the equivalent of about 10 glasses, or 12 cups. The Alberta Health Services suggest that you:

– “Drink water throughout the day

– Drink milk at meals

– Limit fruit juice to ½ cup per day

– Avoid drinks with added sugar such as fruit flavoured drinks, soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened hot or cold drinks and alcohol.”

Aging and fluid intake

As we age, our perception of thirst changes. We may not feel thirsty even if we are actually in need of some water or a drink. For those with dementia, it can become a major issue too.

In an interview about her second book “What I Wish People Knew About Dementia”, author Wendy Mitchell discussed how her relationship with food and drink changed after her own diagnosis.

As the AgeUK article explained:

“Wendy’s relationship with food and drink has long since changed. She no longer feels hungry or thirsty as she used to. This is one of the areas she thinks people misunderstand the most. A person may see a loved one not eating and think they’ve forgotten, and while they may have done, it may also be that they no longer experience the desire to.”

Fuel for thought

This is a crucial point. If as adults our desire to eat or drink diminishes, and we no longer find pleasure in meals or food, we need a new motivation to take in those vital fluids and calories.

Wendy found her motivation was the enjoyment of daily walks around her village, taking photographs. Food and drink provide the fuel she needs to take and enjoy those walks. By shifting her mindset to that cause and effect pathway, she has overcome the loss of enjoyment of meals and regained her motivation to eat and drink.

Physical issues around drinking fluids

For seniors with mobility issues, the physical challenges of getting up, making a drink and carrying it back to a chair may be considerable. Equally, they may reduce their fluid intake in order not to have to get up and urinate as often, especially at night. Even holding a glass or a hot mug with arthritic hands may be more difficult than before.

Here are some ways you can help yourself or your senior loved one monitor what you drink and keep hydrated:

  • Always have a glass of water on hand at mealtimes.
  • Use a clear glass allows you to see how much you have drunk.
  • Don’t fill a glass or mug right to the top. Allow space for fluids to rock about a bit!
  • Use a drinking straw so you don’t have to lift your glass or mug each time.
  • Enjoy a variety of drinks and water-rich options throughout the day. Include smoothies, milky drinks, soups, gravy, ice lollies, and watery fruits such as melons.
Sip, sip hooray

One way to keep drinking with ease is to use a clear plastic sports water bottle with a built-in straw and a snap shut top, such as runners use. Keep this by your chair when reading or watching TV. Take several sips at each advert break or end of a chapter and you’ll be amazed how much you drink over the day! It’s also eco-friendly, as you can wash it and reuse it for years.

For more details on keeping hydrated, see the My Health Alberta website.

Home care as fuel for fun

Only a few weeks ago, we had a discussion here at Vytality at Home about how home care gives you as a client both the time and the energy to do what you enjoy.

  • Our caregivers can take on the tasks that can be physically tiring for you, from personal care and help with dressing, to laundry and meal preparation.
  • Our Partners can take on specific home-based jobs such as gardening, house maintenance and snow clearing.

You may find you have a finite amount of energy each day, or your arthritis or other chronic conditions may limit the amount of activity you can do each day. So, “spend” that daily energy you do have doing something you enjoy – and leave the rest to us! Our 2 hour caregiver visits gives plenty of time for personal care, light housekeeping and a cup of coffee and a chat too.

Calgary home care from Vytality at Home

If you’d like to make the most of your energy each day with regular home care visits, contact us to book a free home care consultation.

539, 5940 Macleod Trail SWCalgary, AB