Dehydration can be a fairly common health problem for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Forgetfulness is one reason people with the disease become dehydrated. Other causes range from side effects of medications to a decreased sense of thirst that often happens as we grow older.
Hydration is important at any age. Fluid intake impacts everything from kidney function to heart health. The good news is that there are steps caregivers can take to help a senior with Alzheimer’s disease stay well-hydrated.
5 Ways to Prevent Dehydration for Seniors with Alzheimer’s
1. Offer water and foods with high water content throughout the day
People with Alzheimer’s disease often suffer from a loss of verbal communication skills. This makes it tough for both of you. Instead of waiting for them to signal you that they are thirsty, offer them water and foods that have a high water content frequently. You can add lemons or other fruit to the water to make it look more appealing.
2. Set a good example for your loved one to mimic
Make drinking water and/or herbal tea (its caffeine free!) a shared ritual. Take breaks throughout the day to sit down and drink a glass of either one with your loved one. Or make a fruit cup with melons and berries that help pump up fluid levels for each of you to enjoy as an afternoon or mid-morning snack.
3. Plan menus that promote hydration
If your senior loved one was never a big water drinker, it may be a challenge to get them to drink enough each day. To help them stay hydrated, plan menus that include foods known to have a high water content. They range from cucumbers and leafy green vegetables to tomatoes, celery and melons.
4. Make it easy for your family member to drink water
When you can’t be with your loved one, make sure it is easy for them to drink water. Fill several water bottles and keep them in the refrigerator. You might even want to order bottles that have an infuser built in so you can add fruit. Then make reminder calls to your family member to encourage them to drink while you are away.
5. Investigate their medications’ side effects
It isn’t uncommon for older adults to take medications that contribute to dehydration. Diuretics and blood pressure pills are two examples. Some over-the-counter medications, like antihistamines, may also be a problem. Review your loved one’s medications to see if any of them are known to cause dehydration.
Dehydration Can Mimic Alzheimer’s Disease
Since the signs of dehydration can mimic common symptoms of dementia, it may be necessary to monitor the fluid intake and urine output of a senior with Alzheimer’s. Talk with your loved one’s primary care physician to learn more.
Heritage Senior Communities are a leading provider of specialized dementia care in Michigan. Call the community nearest you to schedule a visit today!