With summer’s warm weather, be on the lookout for dehydration in your loved one. The signs include confusion, fatigue, weakness, and sleepiness. Some people become dizzy and their balance is thrown off. Dry mouth, headaches, and muscle cramps are other symptoms of dehydration.
It is estimated that 20%–40% of seniors are dehydrated.
Getting them to drink more fluids is not always easy. Try these strategies:
- Offer foods that are high in liquids. Try juicy fruits and vegetables, soups, popsicles, jello, yogurt, or smoothies.
- Serve tasty fluids. Lend some zing to water by adding citrus or cucumber slices, fresh mint leaves or lavender. Offer broth as an alternative to sweets. Soda and coffee may only add to dehydration. And alcohol is definitely not advised. Water, milk, and juice are the safest. Talk to the doctor before using sports drinks.
- Promote the habit. Set a timer for reminders. Or google “hydration apps” for tracking assistance. Another tip: Drink a glass of water after every visit to the restroom.
- Keep a lightweight pitcher of water out and handy. If you are visiting, pour yourself a glass and bring them one too.
- Address worries about incontinence. Provide incontinence products for reassurance in case your relative is limiting fluid intake for fear of accidents.
When to be especially vigilant
People with memory problems are at greater risk for dehydration. (They forget to ask for something to drink.) So are people who have trouble getting up and walking or are dependent on others to bring them water. Dehydration is very likely to happen if your loved one has a fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Or if they exert themselves in the heat. Older adults who are constipated, and those with kidney stones, benefit from extra fluids as these conditions are linked with chronic dehydration.
If you are concerned about dehydration, ask for a medical assessment.
Is dehydration a possibility?
As the Iowa City, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids experts in family caregiving, we at Iowa City Hospice notice that dehydration is often at the heart of common but concerning symptoms. Want help with eldercare? Give us a call at 1-800-897-3052, toll-free.