Dehydration is especially common in elderly adults with dementia, as the portion of the brain that detects liquid imbalance and alerts people to their thirst may become impaired as dementia progresses. Preventing dehydration in dementia-stricken elderly is attainable by following the following tips:
1. Have A Glass Of Water Nearby
Many individuals encounter mobility difficulties in the later stages of cognitive decline. Having water nearby can help prevent dehydration in elderly dementia patients, particularly those who have trouble getting their own.
2. Set Water Reminders
Notes, reminders, and alarms can assist your loved one in remembering to drink enough water on a regular basis. As reminders, a post-it note on the refrigerator or a message pinned to their water bottle can be effective. Phone alarms at regular intervals can also work — but ensure that the recipient understands the purpose of the warning. Otherwise, it may cause confusion.
3. Invest In Adapted Drinking Aids
Adapted drinking aids can make a significant impact in terms of preventing dehydration in dementia patients. No-spill glasses and mugs, straw stabilizers, and easy-swallow cups are all available online for individuals with cognitive impairment. Consider something vibrant to bring attention to the beverage or a cup with your relative's name printed on it.
4. Maintain Hydration With Tasty, Nutritious Snacks
Consuming the necessary nutrients might sometimes be challenging for people living with dementia. Throughout the day, serve water-rich snacks such as high-protein broths, melon, cucumbers, or calcium-fortified yogurts and smoothies. Additionally, pre-made shakes such as Boost or Ensure provide nutritional support in a liquid form.
5. Utilize Mirroring To Promote Hydration
Mirroring is a commonly used approach for guiding activities in those with dementia. Take regular sips of your caffeine-free tea while conversing with your loved ones, and they're likely to do the same.
6. Include Drinking Breaks In Routine Activities
Many patients with early or mid-stage dementia can still enjoy activities such as basic knitting or craft projects. Encourage scheduled breaks for hydration during at-home dementia activities — for example, sip every time you complete a row in a scarf you're knitting.
7. Maintain A Comfortable And Cool Environment
Maintaining a normal body temperature is critical for preventing dehydration in senior dementia patients, particularly during the warmer months. Due to the fact that individuals experiencing cognitive decline usually have difficulty controlling their internal temperature, it is critical to dress appropriately in loose-fitting clothing and keep the house cool.
8. Give Their Favorite Drinks
While water is the preferred way of hydration, it is not the only one. Offering more flavorful options may make it simpler for those with dementia to prevent dehydration. Sports drinks, flavored waters, and juice are all acceptable options — avoid caffeine and alcohol-containing beverages, as they act as diuretics, increasing urination.
Are you looking for effective treatments for your senior loved ones with dementia? Check out another Senior Strong article covering all you need to know about possible medications and therapies.
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.