18 Tips, tricks and ideas to
help hydrate seniors
You can lead a horse to water, but you can´t make it drink
Fortunately, it´s easier to communicate with Seniors than horses for the most part. We need water to survive, but drinking enough to get by isn’t always easy, especially for Seniors. Water is required to cushion and lubricate joints, protect your brain and other internal tissues, regulate your body temperature, and remove waste from your body through urination, bowel movements, and perspiration.
People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) need to take care to drink enough water, especially if diarrhea is an issue or there has been surgery to remove part or all of the large intestine (colon). Some daily water intake can also be gotten through eating a healthy diet, but if absorption is an issue, it's even more important to drink water.
Every person's water needs are a little different, so there's no hard and fast rule about how much to drink. The key is to determine someone’s water needs is based on their health, environment (such as hot, dry weather), and activity.
When you don’t have enough water, dehydration comes out to play. When you’re dehydrated you’ll experience dry mouth, low blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, dry skin and fatigue.
Signs of Severe
Little or no urination
Dark or amber-colored urine
Dry skin that stays folded when pinched
Irritability, dizziness, or confusion
Low blood pressure
Rapid breathing and heartbeat
Cold hands and feet
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
As a family caregiver, it’s important to be mindful of the signs and symptoms and to communicate with a doctor or health professional if you notice red flags that could indicate complications from fluid loss.
Picking up on the more subtle, early signs that a senior needs to up their fluid intake are crucial. Keep in mind that thirst is not usually a helpful indicator, because a person who feels thirsty may already be dehydrated. Initial signs to look for include headache, constipation, muscle cramps, dry mouth and tongue, and sleepiness or lethargy. Urine colour is another helpful indicator and should be clear or light yellow for someone who is properly hydrated.
If severe dehydration goes unchecked, it can cause seizures due to electrolyte imbalance, a reduction in the volume of blood in the body (hypovolemic shock), kidney failure, heat injuries, and even coma or death.
18 Tips, tricks and ideas to help hydrate seniors
Try a drinking straw
The action of sucking and swallowing is often easier than sipping and swallowing especially with a dry or parched throat.
Keep a jug nearby
When I need to remember to bring something with me on a particular day or get something done, I put that something in a place I walk by or look at throughout the day so I can't pass it without being reminded to do what it is I have to do. Keep a jug nearby as a constant reminder to drink up. The more you have to look at that water jug, the more you'll remember to fill it and drink it.
Try herbal tea
What is tea but deliciously flavoured water? Drink it hot in the winter and ice it in summer. Whether you like citrus, floral, spicy, or even chocolate-y, there's a tea out there for everyone. Lean in to tea, get them a tea habit, and enjoy the hydration.
Be sneaky feed them water-rich foods
One sneaky way to increase the amount of water they consume on a daily basis: feed them their H2O. Add fruits and vegetables with a high water content to their grocery shopping list. Some top picks include cucumber (96% water), zucchini (95% water), watermelon (92% water), and grapefruit (91% water). (insert water rich food cheat chart here)
Prepare them a salty snack
Salted almonds, peanuts or pretzels, used since time and memorial by bar-keeps to encourage customers to drink more.. Everyone has different needs around sodium and different likes and dislikes for flavour, too. But if a salty snack is appetizing to them, then they will naturally want to consume more water/liquids.
Dilute sugary drinks with water and ice
If you're drinking something extra sweet like juice, lemonade, or iced tea or coffee, water down your beverage by adding ice or even diluting a cup with some water. You’ll still get the sweetness you’re craving and have some extra water at the same time.
Add flavour to their pitcher
You can add a little bit of excitement and flavour by steeping fresh fruit (grapefruit, strawberries, lemon), veggie slices (cucumber, ginger, celery), and herbs (basil, mint, lavender) in your carafe. The longer you let it steep, the tastier each cup will be. And you can play around with different combos, like cucumber mint or basil lemon.
Try fizzy or sparkling water
Carbonated water clears your palette, and simulates your mouth, ideal for someone who isn´t drinking much. Try this at room temperature and cold from the fridge, many be with ice to keep it cooler for longer.
Bribe them with alcohol
I´m not advocating a bottle of JD here, but a glass wine wont hurt, especially if its followed by a glass or water or diluted with water in the first place with some ice. No second glass of wine till that glass of water is finished…!
Experiment with beverages at different temperatures
Your senior may prefer hot drinks to cold, or the other way around. Experiment to find out which type they like better. Try warming up juices, making decaf iced coffee with cream, or adding soda water to make drinks bubbly.
Drink in unconventional ways
They may find drinking water, well, boring, research suggests that switching up how drinks are consumed can make it feel new again ― and thus, more enjoyable. Researchers from the University of Chicago and Ohio State University observed 300 study participants as they consumed water. They asked participants to come up with their own unconventional ways to consume water, and their answers ranged from drinking it out of a martini glass to drinking it from a spoon. The result? They ultimately enjoyed drinking water more than participants who drank it the “normal” way. Water shaken not stirred on the rocks!
Get a Bigger Glass
In some cases, bigger is not necessarily better. But when it comes to drinking their recommended amount of water every day, a switch to a bigger glass might be just the trick you need. They might not even notice the glass is bigger…
Keep tabs on their bathroom habits
Figure out how long it takes before they have to use the bathroom after you drink water or other fluids. “For people with long commutes or worries about disrupting sleep at night, this data can be very helpful,” Instead of avoiding fluids all afternoon and evening just in case, they can hydrate with ease, if they have support to go, or even get regular and get into a routine.
Try something savory
Those who like savory foods may enjoy drinking hot soup broth. The broth can come from a can, box, or powder, but some older adults really like it – especially in cold weather.
Adding a slice of lime or lemon to your water may improve the taste and make you want to drink more water than you usually do.
Homemade popsicles made from fruit juice or a mix of juice and water are a great summer treat. But they’re also a great way to get fluids into your senior.
Try smoothies, milkshakes, or sports drinks
Try enticing them with smoothies, milkshakes, Ensure, or sports drinks. Sometimes they’ll like the flavour or texture and be willing to drink these beverages.
Add more spice to their foods
Kicking things up a notch in the spice department ― say, by adding extra hot sauce or peppers to their meal ― is a really easy (and tasty) way to bump up your water intake. Most people drink (OK, chug) water to cool down their mouth after bites of spicy food and this can help full fill your hydration goals in the process