Read on to discover how to get elderly people to drink more, the links between dehydration and dementia, and how AlfredCamera can aid in facilitating better caregiving practices.
What are Some Signs of Dehydration in the Elderly?
Clearly, it’s a common problem, but since the consequences of dehydration can be life threatening, it’s important for family members and caregivers to take concerns about a lack of liquids seriously.
Signs of dehydration in elderly people include:
- Dark colored urine
- Dry mouth and chapped lips
How Do You Remind Elderly to Drink Water? 5 Tips to Know
Reminding and encouraging seniors to drink water can be challenging if they regularly forget to take in liquids, live with limited mobility, or if they refuse to drink.
Below, consider some of the most useful tips for helping seniors to drink more and avoid dehydration.
1. Tea, Coffee, Soda
If a senior is resistant to drinking water, compromise by letting them drink tea or coffee. If they are sensitive to caffeine or have been advised to stay away from it, choose decaffeinated tea bags and coffee.
Having a cup of tea or coffee can be an enjoyable social occasion, so drinking with them and chatting can be very encouraging and avoid making drinking a ‘chore’.
Likewise, if they refuse to drink water in favor of soda or flavored water, this is also better than not drinking at all. The dangers of dehydration are significant. Choose sugar free options to avoid aggravating conditions like diabetes.
2. Two-way audio camera
Not all seniors require full or part-time care, but they may still fail to drink adequate amounts of liquid. Monitoring liquid intake and providing regular reminders to drink enough can be helpful.
Installing a camera with two-way audio somewhere in the house can be a great way for family members and caregivers to check in every so often and provide friendly reminders to drink more.
A camera observing the kitchen sink, for example, can provide insight into how much they are drinking a day thanks to motion detected events (where the camera records only when motion is detected).
3. Reusable straws
The process of drinking can be challenging for seniors, whether that’s because of conditions that affect motor skills, poorly fitted dentures, or a reduced ability to sip.
In such cases, it’s not necessarily ‘forgetting’ to drink or a lack of the desire to drink that might be causing dehydration, but because it is difficult to drink.
Providing a reusable straw is a good way to overcome this, as it makes it much easier to reach for beverages and to consume them. These can be placed in water bottles or used in cups and mugs.
For people that experience shakiness in the hands, open cups can be difficult to hold and drink from without spilling. This can contribute to a reluctance to drink, so serve all beverages, including tea and coffee, in containers with lids and a straw.
4. Jelly Drops
Though they don’t contain any sugar, Jelly Drops are sweet, which makes them perfect for seniors with a sweet tooth that aren’t drinking enough throughout the day.
Knowing how to hydrate elderly people that won’t drink may seem impossible, but Jelly Drops may be a reliable means of preventing dehydration even if liquids are scarcely consumed.
5. Rehydration sachets
A more conventional approach that can aid someone that drinks a little during the day is to add rehydration sachets to their drinks.
These are usually flavored, and may be marketed as relieving the effects of acute diarrhea or even hangovers, but make great hydration packs for elderly people or anyone exhibiting the effects of mild dehydration.
They are designed to replace lost salts and fluids, so can be useful in maintaining normal levels of salts in the body.
Be aware that rehydration sachets often contain glucose, so caregivers should always double check with doctors that they are appropriate for people diagnosed with diabetes or other health conditions that impact glucose levels.
How Do You Persuade Elderly to Drink More Water?
2.7 to 3.7 liters of liquids a day may seem like a tall order for anyone, but it’s worth remembering that liquids, including water, are obtained from plenty of different sources other than a glass of water.
Here’s some ideas as to how to persuade an elderly person to drink more:
1. Provide a constant source of liquid nearby
Persuading someone who lives with limited mobility to drink more is both pointless and insensitive to their needs, since it’s likely that they don’t drink because they find it difficult to obtain a drink in the first place.
Make sure that they have water or some other liquid on hand at all times, whether that’s by the bedside table or in the vicinity of where they spend most of the day.
2. Make tasty food with fruit & veg
Many foods are actually packed full of water, meaning providing a tasty leafy green salad or fruit salad is an invaluable way to help stay hydrated.
Some of these can also be prepared as snacks for the person being cared for to munch on throughout the day. Foods with high water content include:
- Spinach and other salad leaves
- Watermelon and other types of melon
3. Encourage eating soups and broths
All kinds of soups are naturally high in liquids, meaning they make a great meal for elderly people that are dehydrated or do not drink enough throughout the day.
Likewise, broths are predominantly made up of water, so tasty noodle dishes and other kinds of meals made with broths can replenish and rehydrate. It also helps that soups and broth-based dishes are easy to eat.
What to Do If An Elderly Person Refuses to Drink?
Refusal to drink is also associated with depression, which can emerge alongside worsening dementia.
If a person refuses to drink, try:
Compromising – let them have tea, coffee, or even diet soda. Something that tastes good is more likely to entice them to drink. When it comes to dehydration, the most important thing is that fluids are consumed.
Providing Jelly Drops and other foods with high water content – liquids are obtained from more plenty of places other than the tap. Caregivers could try giving the person they care for a Jelly Drop, which is 95% water, and other foods with high water content (listed above).
How much water should an elderly person drink per day?
How often should I remind an elderly person to drink water?
All medication should be consumed with a full glass of water, so whenever medicine is consumed, an elderly person should be reminded to drink water. If aiming for 200ml of fluid 8 times a day, spread reminders for this throughout the day as appropriate. If the person being reminded expresses reluctance or irritation, back off. Instead, encourage them by example, joining them in having tea or coffee and socializing with them.
What are the health risks associated with dehydration in the elderly?
Health risks associated with dehydration in the elderly include:
- Low blood pressure
- Heat stroke
- Kidney failure
- Blood clots
- Increased risk of infection
- Increased risk of falls
- Increased risk of UTI
- Increased risk of cancer, including bladder and colorectal cancer
- Pressure sores and other skin conditions
How can caregivers ensure that the elderly drink enough water while they are away from home?
Accessing the live feed, caregivers can chat to the person they are caring for through two-way audio, providing gentle reminders to drink more as and when necessary.
Ensuring elderly people obtain enough liquids throughout the day is fundamental to maintaining good health. Dehydration, if severe enough, can lead to death.
Caregivers should remember that plain water isn’t the only source of hydration, so thinking outside the box can help in keeping someone hydrated.