You’ve no doubt read or heard about the staggering number of people in this country who live with Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia. In the U.S. alone, 5.4 million people have Alzheimer’s. That breaks down to one in nine adults over the age of 65.
A common challenge family caregivers face is keeping a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s hydrated. For a variety of reasons ranging from forgetting to drink to medication side effects, adults with this disease are at higher risk for dehydration.
So what can family caregivers due to prevent dehydration in elderly with dementia?
5 Ways to Prevent Dehydration in a Loved One with Alzheimer’s
Here are some of the best ways to prevent dehydration in the elderly person living with memory loss:
1. Lead by example
Family caregivers are notorious for putting their own health on the back burner while they care for a loved one. This includes not drinking enough water each day.
Make a point of filling one water jug for you and one for your loved one each morning. Use them to keep refilling each of your glasses throughout the day until your jugs are empty. It might help to drink from a sports bottle or insulated cup that keeps your water cold all day.
If you get tired of drinking plain water, add lemons, berries or herbs to enhance the flavor.
2. Encourage your loved one to drink throughout the day
People with memory loss may simply forget to drink water. Make it a practice to encourage them to drink often. Don’t just ask your family member if they want a drink, hand their cup to them and urge them to drink.
3. Plan menus with foods that promote hydration
There are other steps you can take besides drinking water that will help promote hydration. Eating the right foods is one. Many fruits and vegetables are high in water content. Berries, melon, cucumber, lettuce and other leafy greens are just a few.
4. Review your loved one’s medication side effects
Some medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, taken by seniors can contribute to dehydration. Review the warning labels from the pharmacy or speak with the pharmacist to determine if your loved one takes any medications known to cause dehydration. If they do, you should speak with the prescribing physician for more advice on how to avoid dehydration.
5. Recognizing the signs of dehydration
Finally, it is important for family caregivers to take time to learn the symptoms of dehydration. Early intervention can keep a small problem from becoming a life threatening one.
Here are a few common warning signs of elderly dehydration:
- Dizziness or unsteady gait
- Being overly tired or unusually fatigued
- Dry skin or eyes
- Sunken eyes
- Low urine output
Since these signs are already common in people with Alzheimer’s, it might be difficult to tell the difference. Experts recommend caregivers monitor their senior loved one’s liquid intake and urine output, especially on hot days.
Heartland Village for Adults with Alzheimer’sAt Elmcroft Senior Living, we know dehydration in seniors is just one of the many unique challenges seniors with Alzheimer’s face. It’s why we created, Heartland Village. Our specialized memory care program honors each resident’s life history in an environment designed to support success.
If you are finding it difficult to manage a loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease at home, we invite you to call the Elmcroft Senior Living community nearest you that offers Memory Care to schedule a tour of Heartland Village.