Hydration is important for everyone, especially in the summer heat that plagues much of the country right now. But for seniors, it can be key in staying healthy and maintaining proper function to almost every system in the human body, and dehydration is a common but often preventable ailment.
Older adults often don't get enough fluids and risk becoming dehydrated because they don't sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. “That could be a problem if they're on a medication that may cause fluid loss, such as a diuretic," says Dr. Julian Seifter, a kidney specialist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Warning signs of dehydration include weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, or urine that is dark in color.
Here are a few ways to be sure your senior’s caregivers are making sure that your loved one is staying hydrated this season.
- Popsicles: People of all ages can enjoy a good popsicle in the summer. They are easy to come by, have a long shelf life in the freezer, and are even fairly easy to make at home. When getting your parent or loved one to drink water becomes difficult, a cold, sweet treat like a popsicle can be something that helps make sure they are getting some additional fluids. Experiment with different flavors or pick up some molds to get creative and create your own!
- Smoothies: We can't get enough of smoothies, and think they can be an excellent way to not only get vital nutrients from fruits and veggies into your aging loved one, but can help with hydration as well. Just like with popsicles, they are a versatile option that can be suited to an individual’s tastes, so play around with different bases like water, almond milk, and fresh fruit juices to see what your senior likes best. To make it easier on the caregivers, keep fruit in the freezer for constant availability and ease in making sure there are options available at any given time.
- Water: No matter how you slice it, water is always going to be the most simple and effective way to get hydrated fast. If you find it difficult to get your loved one wot drink water, one way to mix it up is to add sliced fruit like lemons, oranges, or berries. Not only is it visually appealing, but it changes the flavor subtly and might be just what it takes to entice them to drink.
- Keep Record: A simple trick to keeping an eye on water intake is to find a marked water bottle with ounces on the side. This way your caregiver won’t have any trouble knowing exactly what your parent is drinking and can easily keep track of their consumption.
- Foods High in Water: When all else fails, offering foods that naturally have a high water content can be a great way to sneak in hydration. Cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, applesauce, and watermelon are just a few ideas.
You can even make a water chart so that the caregivers are reminded about exactly how much water they should be trying to get your parent or loved one to drink on a daily basis. A dry erase board works great, and that way everyone is on the same page.
It's possible to take in too much water if you have certain health conditions, such as thyroid disease or kidney, liver, or heart problems, or if you're taking medications that make you retain water, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opiate pain medications, and some antidepressants. Dr. Seifter says for that reason, you should check with your doctor to be sure you're getting the right amount.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE IS CONSIDERING CAREGIVERS IN WILSON, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS TODAY. CALL (919) 761-5346.