Getting seniors to drink enough water can be challenging, but it is an important part of maintaining their overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dehydration is a common cause of hospitalization in people over the age of 65.
Older adults are at an increased risk of dehydration because their bodies naturally lose water in the form of vapor, sweat, feces, and urine. As seniors become less active and can no longer move around as easily as they used to, their daily water intake typically decreases as well.
Dehydration can cause feelings of thirst and lethargy, which often go unnoticed and untreated in seniors. Elderly adults can experience a variety of ailments from mild irritation to life-threatening shock in extreme cases when they fail to remain hydrated. For all these reasons and more, it is critical to keep your elderly loved ones consuming adequate amounts of water in their old age.
Risks of Dehydration
Dehydration is a significant health risk for seniors. The older you get, the more difficult your body finds it to maintain an appropriate water balance and sense when you are thirsty. As a result, dehydration is a common cause of illness and hospitalization among elderly people.
The effects of dehydration can be detrimental to health and lead to a dangerous downward spiral. Seniors who drink less than adequate amounts of water are at risk for:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs) – UTIs are the most common type of bacterial infection in people over the age of 65.
- Decreased cognitive function – Dehydration can cause confusion, especially in people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Constipation – Dehydration is a leading cause of constipation in seniors.
How Much Water Should an Elderly Person Drink a Day?
Water is critical for allowing the body to perform many of its most vital functions. Our bodies need water to regulate their temperatures, excrete waste, and maintain healthy blood pressure among other things. As adults get older, however, many factors ranging from kidney problems and medications to a general decline in thirst cause seniors to drink significantly less water than they used to. So how much should they actually be getting?
The expert consensus on this topic is that older adults should be consuming at least 1.7 liters, or 7.1 cups of water each day to maintain optimal health and physical function.
Hydration Tips for Seniors
Getting your elderly loved ones to keep up their water intake isn’t easy, but it is completely possible when equipped with the right knowledge. Here are five simple tips for encouraging the senior in your life to drink enough water.
1. Offer alternative sources of fluids
Hydration can be achieved through more than just plain water. As long they’re not consumed in excess, coffee, fruit juices, fruit smoothies, teas, and sweetened beverages can also be great ways to help seniors stay hydrated. It may be a good idea to talk to your older adult about allowing a little bit of their favorite indulgent or sugary beverage once in a while if they are having a hard time adjusting their water drinking habits in order to meet their hydration needs. You may also want to try feeding them high water content foods such as apples, carrots, or celery.
2. Keep water close by at all times
Forcing older adults to get up and walk to the kitchen for a glass of water might discourage them from drinking enough fluids each day. To fix this problem, try keeping an easy-to-access pitcher of water and a drinking cup anywhere they spend most of their time. Having convenient access to hydration throughout the day and at night may encourage them to keep their fluid intake up.
3. Cater to your senior’s personal preferences
Encourage your senior to get adequate amounts of hydration by providing beverages on his or her terms. Test out different temperature and type pairings for things like coffee, juices, and tea until you find one your senior enjoys most. It will always be easier to get an elderly person to consume beverages they enjoy than force them to drink ones they don’t!
4. Offer smaller quantities of water at more frequent intervals
Regardless of age, one of the simplest ways to encourage a person to drink enough fluids is to offer them smaller quantities on a more frequent basis. Breaking up your loved one’s water intake into mini, bite-sized pieces will help the daily goal seem much more achievable, and therefore, they will be more likely to follow through with it. To keep your elderly loved ones hydrated, try providing small amounts of water every few hours using a schedule to keep you on track. Older adults may resist drinking enough water if they are required to take in large amounts at one time but will likely cooperate much better on simpler terms.
5. Make popsicles
Converting fruit juice or a mix of juice and water into popsicles is a great way to encourage older adults to get the fluids they need. Over time, drinking liquid out of cups day in and day out may become boring, so making an easy change like this may be just what you need to get your senior back on track.
Elderly Care Services
Encouraging your loved one to get enough hydration each day is just one of the many challenging aspects of providing home care to adults above the age of 65. As a trusted Park Ridge, IL elderly care provider, our goal is to make certain your loved one is completely taken care of both physically and mentally, whether that involves helping your senior meet their nutritional needs each day or taking them out to the park for walks to stay active. We offer professional senior home care to elderly adults throughout Park Ridge, IL and the surrounding areas.
At Assisting Hands Home Care, we offer compassionate senior in-home care services provided by knowledgeable and experienced professionals who work around the clock to serve our clients’ needs. Our team is filled with dedicated professionals who will assist you or your loved one with the therapies, treatments, activities, and services that are most appropriate for promoting independence, returning to self-sufficiency, or just making day-to-day life a little easier.