Most seniors are chronically dehydrated. As seniors get older they need to drink more water, but many drink less. Seniors are not drinking enough water. They can suffer very real health problems as a result of that.
There are many reasons why seniors aren’t drinking enough water. Sometimes seniors just forget to drink water during the day. Some of the other common reasons why seniors aren’t drinking enough water include:
- Lowered thirst response.
- Health conditions that dampen appetite and thirst cues.
- Alzheimer’s or dementia where seniors can’t recognize when they are thirsty.
- Not liking the taste of water due to side effects from medication.
- Medications that take away the desire to eat and drink.
Symptoms of Dehydration in Seniors
Before focusing on why seniors are not drinking enough families and elder care providers need to know what the symptoms of dehydration in seniors are. The most common symptoms of dehydration in seniors include:
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Mood or personality changes.
- Infrequent urination
- Recurrent UTIs or bladder infections.
- Dizziness or loss of coordination.
- Dry mouth and/or a dry cough.
- Muscle cramps due to the loss of electrolytes through sweating.
- Chills or heat intolerance.
- Flushed skin.
Getting Seniors to Drink More Water
Family members or elder care providers who notice these symptoms in seniors should start by simply trying to get them to drink more water. Handing them a glass of water on a regular schedule and reminding them to drink it can help. So can trying other things to drink besides water.
Seniors who don’t like the taste of water can drink other beverages to stay hydrated. But, seniors should stay away from beverages with caffeine. Caffeine can make dehydration worse. Some popular alternative drinks to water that can help seniors stay hydrated are:
- Herbal tea that is hot or iced.
- Water with fruit in it.
- Water with cucumber or mint in it.
- Flavored water that has sugar-free flavoring in it.
- Iced tea without caffeine.
- Cranberry juice, which can also prevent UTIs and bladder problems.
- Orange juice.
- Sparkling water.
- Dairy or dairy free milk.
Trying new drinks can be a fun way to get seniors to drink more. Get creative! Try non-alcoholic punches, mocktails, and fancy drink recipes to make drinking a celebration.
Getting More Hydration Through Food
Some seniors really just don’t want to drink more water. When that happens seniors can get more of the hydration they need through the food they eat. Eating foods that contain a lot of water can replace lost fluids just like drinking water can. Their elder care provider can help them meal prep to ensure they're getting the proper nutrition.
Seniors can eat foods like cucumbers, citrus fruits, kale, salads, smoothies, and soups to get more water. Smoothies and homemade protein drinks are a great opportunity to add water, juice, and milk into a senior’s diet. Try different foods that have a lot of water to get your senior parent hydrated.