When I first started doing research for CarePenguin, I visited an assisted living facility and talked to a manager about everyday struggles they encounter with their residents. She told me that one of the biggest challenges was getting the older adults that lived there to stay hydrated. They enjoyed drinking coffee and soda but did not want to drink water.
A study conducted by UCLA found that 40% of seniors are chronically dehydrated, and adults aged 65+ have the highest hospital admission rates for dehydration.
As I did more research on this issue, I realized how important it is for seniors to stay hydrated and found some ways for caregivers to help them.
Causes and effects of dehydration in senior citizens
Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration for a few reasons. As we age, our ability to conserve water decreases, causing fluid and electrolyte imbalances. We also lose our sense of thirst as we age. This causes dehydration which can lead to serious health problems such as urinary tract infections, falls, kidney stones, seizures and more.
Signs of dehydration in senior citizens
Some signs of dehydration to look for include
- Dry mouth
- Sunken eyes
- Dark colored urine
- Muscle cramps
- Dry skin
- Low blood pressure
- Weak pulse
Tips to help your elderly loved one stay hydrated
If your loved one doesn’t like to drink plain water, there are plenty of other options to keep them hydrated such as flavored drinks, juice, broth and fruits and veggies high in water content.
Some ideas to try to make water more enticing is to add fruit to it like lemon, oranges, cucumber, or strawberries to give it more flavor. Water enhancements like nuun tablets are also a great way to make water taste good and replenish electrolytes in the body.
Try out different temperatures or textures of liquids. Perhaps your loved one prefers carbonated drinks–offer them some flavored sparkling water, or add sparkling water to their favorite juice. If they prefer hot drinks, serve them some tea. If they prefer something savory, encourage them to drink chicken, bone, or powdered broth.
Foods can also be a source of hydration. Some foods that contain high water content include
- Bell pepper
Next time you’re out grocery shopping with your loved one, pick up some of these foods.
Lastly, consider getting your elderly loved one a Hidrate Spark water bottle that blinks, reminding you to drink water. If they’re tech savvy and have smartphones, they can sync their water bottle to the Hidrate Spark app where they can see how much water they’ve drunk, as well as set and achieve hydration goals.
Keeping our elderly loved ones hydrated is important to prevent health problems. With these tips, you can help them stay healthy and live independently.