Keeping Hydrated when Mother Nature Turns Up the Heat!

Research shows that 40% of heat related fatalities in the US were among people over 65.  So what do you do when handing your elderly loved one the task of drinking a gallon of water a day?  Most elderly people would shudder at the fact thinking they need to chug down that much water each day, but in most cases without doing so it can lead to many other health problems such as Urinary Tract Infections and low blood pressure and inevitably dehydration.

Here are some creative and easy ways to help them consume the necessary fluids they require.  Make sure that there is variety in both the liquids and foods they consume.  Perhaps you offer a glass of natural juice or a snack such as watermelon, (whose water content is 92%) *see list of top ten fruits with highest water content below.   The variety should increase their motivation to eat and drink, just make sure to avoid beverage with caffeine as these cause dehydration.

Convenience to access fluids is another deterrent.  If someone has mobility issues and is using a cane, walker or even a wheelchair the task of getting up and down to fetch a beverage can be discouraging to them.  Simple steps like placing a small basket with the mini water bottles in a variety of places, such as their bedside table, an end table in a living room, some out on the counter in the kitchen or even if they use a patio in warmer weather.  Having these accessible to them will encourage them to drink.  Most seniors also may drink more if you provide a smaller glass and use a straw.  Fluids consumption is typically increased when someone drinks with a straw.

Keeping track, it is also good to have a chart or way for an elderly person to keep track of what and how much they have drank or eaten.  This can keep them on target for keeping up on their daily intake.

There are several reasons why seniors may have a decrease in fluid consumption.  They range from diminished thirst, to prescribed medications and most importantly fear of being incontinent.  This last point is a fear for anyone at any age.  The best way to address it is with compassion, understanding and the ability to help them feel less embarrassed if it does occur.  Families can try to ensure that the bulk of liquids are consumed early in the day as well as using the bathroom before bed and every few hours to be sure their bladder has emptied.  Incontinence undergarments have come a long way in the last several years and are more discreet than ever before.  Be sure to encourage the person to wear something in the evening upon retiring for bed to ensure that if they don’t make it to the bathroom in time that they will be ensured protection with the appropriate incontinence products.

We hope that these friendly tips will help to give creative ways and ideas to encourage fluid consumption.

  • Top 10 fruits by water content:
  • Watermelon 92%
  • Strawberries 92%
  • Grapefruit 91% (be careful when consuming citrus fruit as it may conflict with certain medications)
  • Cantaloupe 90%
  • Peach 88%
  • Pineapple 87%
  • Raspberries 87%
  • Oranges 87% (be careful when consuming citrus fruit as it may conflict with certain medications)
  • Blueberries 85%
  • Bananas 74% (fruit with lowest water content)