Seniors don’t always feel like drinking. Here are tips to help your loved one stay hydrated.
If you have an older loved one, then you know that hydration is a real issue for seniors. But when winter hits, it becomes even harder. Here are some tips and ideas you can implement to help your loved one stay hydrated, healthy – and safe.
1. Help them keep track.
There’s no way you can really know how much your loved one is drinking if you’re not there 24/7. Help them help themselves by either drawing up a chart, setting up a notebook or downloading a fitness/health app with a water tracker. If your loved one’s really not used to drinking, start with a modest goal they feel they can handle. Then gradually help them build up to 8 glasses a day.
2. Encourage them to try new things.
Hydration doesn’t only mean water. When you come to visit, bring a new natural fruit drink, a box of herbal teas, a fun-flavored decaf coffee – anything you think they might enjoy trying. While it’s true that water has health advantages no other beverage has, the point here is hydration – not nutrition. So as long as it’s not harmful, let your loved one drink whatever appeals to them.
3. Don’t forget the soup.
Soup is a wonderful source of hydration and nutrition in one convenient bowl. If your loved one likes it, do what you can to see that they get as much of it as they’d like (within reason). Speak to the staff at their residence to see if the kitchen staff can accommodate a request for more or different kinds of soups. Cook some and bring it when you visit. Take them out to dinner. You get the idea.
4. Hydration can come from food, too.
Besides soup, some fruits and vegetables have a really high water content. Cucumbers, for example, are 95% water – even higher than watermelon (92%, which isn’t bad either). Oranges? 88%. And lettuce has a whopping 96% water content. All of these foods count toward hydration.
5. Don’t use thirst as a gauge for hydration.
Whatever you do, don’t take your loved one’s level of thirst as a hydration gauge. Thirst isn’t a wonderful hydration tester as it is, but for seniors it’s even worse. That’s because, as we age, the thirst sensation decreases. That goes double during the winter. So if your loved one is consistently refusing drinks because “I’m not thirsty,” try to find a workaround.
6. If your loved one does dehydrate, don’t blame yourself.
This is crucial. You are not responsible for your loved one’s hydration. You can help, encourage, suggest, bring drinks, soups, fruits and vegetables – but ultimately it is your loved one’s choice. If they are seriously refusing hydration, contact their primary physician or the medical team at their place of residence. That’s all you can do.