For decades doctors have recommended drinking eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. While that amount may not always be necessary, it’s a good guideline to follow.
In cooler weather, most people may not need as much. But in hot summer weather, we often lose more fluid to sweat. It means we need to hydrate more frequently to replenish those fluids.
Why Seniors Struggle with Hydration
It can be a challenge for anyone to drink enough water, but it may be especially difficult for older adults for a variety of reasons.
- A senior loved one may struggle with incontinence and steer clear of beverages for fear of having an accident.
- Seniors with Alzheimer’s may feel thirsty, but forget the steps to get a drink of water. Other adults with this disease simply fail to recognize thirst any longer.
- Older adults who live with mobility issues may think it is too much trouble to get up and down to go to the kitchen for water which then requires them to make more trips to the bathroom.
- Like so many of us, our senior loved ones just might forget to drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
As a caregiver, it’s important to make sure your senior loved one stays hydrated in the summer heat.
These tips can help you ensure your senior loved one gets enough to drink without resorting to nagging or begging.
Easy Ways to Encourage Hydration in a Senior Loved One
1. Offer – don’t suggest.
Rather than asking, “Are you thirsty?” or “Would you like a drink?” simply provide an enticing beverage, whether it’s an ice cold glass of water or a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea.
2. Make drinking water convenient.
Young or old, we all strive for convenience. Keep a filled water bottle at arm’s reach from your senior loved one to sip throughout the day. Stock the refrigerator with water and other healthy beverages in ready-to-drink containers.
Keep in mind that older adults with arthritis or illnesses like Parkinson’s disease may struggle to pour water from some pitchers or with opening store-bought bottles of water. Instead, fill easy to open water bottles so your senior loved one can get a drink whenever the mood strikes.
Choose easy to carry containers so your loved one will have water wherever he or she goes.
3. Change it up.
Consider infusing water with fruits for a refreshingly different flavor, serve up flavored seltzers, or experiment with herbal teas. Just steer clear of caffeine-filled coffee and black tea, which can dehydrate.
Healthy soups made with low-fat broth also count toward a daily water quota, so consider starting every meal with a tasty soup. Other foods with a high water content include cucumbers, melons, berries and leafy green lettuces.
4. Schedule drink breaks.
As a caregiver, you probably live by schedules: doctor’s visits, medication dosage times, meals.
Why not schedule time to drink water, as well?
The best times to drink water include:
- when you first wake up
- before every snack or meal
- before, during, and after physical activity (such as walking, Pilates, or a yoga class).
Schedule alarms to remind your loved one to drink before these events and several other times a day.
5. Drink together.
Don’t underestimate the value of modeling good behavior. Pour a drink for yourself when you provide one for your loved one and you’ll start to feel the benefits of a well-hydrated body, too. Primarily, you will find you have more energy and healthy, glowing skin.
Know the Signs of Dehydration
As you take steps to encourage your senior loved one to drink more water, also take time out to learn the signs of dehydration. A senior suffering exhaustion, sore limbs, dry mouth, confusion, headaches, or infrequent urination may be suffering from dehydration.
One final tip is to remember that while dehydration occurs more often in summer months, it can be a problem for seniors all year long.
For more information on topics ranging from successful aging to caregiving, we encourage you to visit Five Star Senior Living “Resources for Families.” We share the latest news and research there several times each week!