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Senior Hydration Challenge

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Reminding your father to drink water might not be effective if forgetfulness isn’t the issue. Despite your efforts to stress the importance of hydration, it appears to have limited impact.

For seniors over 65, maintaining proper hydration is paramount. Not only does it help prevent severe health complications and hospitalizations associated with dehydration, but it ensures medications function effectively. It regulates body temperature, which is particularly crucial during hot weather.

Seniors are particularly susceptible to fluid and electrolyte imbalances due to declining muscle mass, kidney function, and a diminished sense of thirst. By the time they feel thirsty, their hydration levels may already be dangerously low.

Additionally, older individuals are at risk of overhydration, especially if they have conditions like heart or kidney failure or if they undergo procedures involving IV fluids or blood transfusions.

Age-related changes in hunger and thirst perception further complicate matters. Studies indicate that their desire to drink water decreases as people age, and their brains respond differently to thirst signals, making hydration maintenance challenging.

So, when your father insists he isn’t thirsty, he may genuinely believe it despite his body’s hydration needs.

Furthermore, if your senior has incontinence issues, they may face additional challenges with fluid balance due to decreased ability to sense thirst and hunger, changes in body composition, and certain medications such as diuretics, laxatives, and chemotherapy drugs.  Consult pharmacists or healthcare practitioners to review medications or other interventions if appropriate.


To make water consumption more enjoyable for your senior, consider these strategies:


  • Temperature preference: Some seniors prefer ice-cold water, so keep a pitcher in the fridge or provide a favorite to-go bottle or mug. For those who enjoy hot beverages, herbal teas with lemon are offered.
  • Infused water: Add a splash of juice to plain soda water for a bubbly twist. For sugar-free options, experiment with flavors using lemon wedges, lime packets, orange slices, or flavor packets like Crystal Light.
  • Presentation matters: Serve water in a dark-colored glass instead of a clear one to make it more appealing.
  • Establish drinking habits: Encourage your senior to drink water throughout the day, particularly after or during walks, with meals, and when taking medication.
  • Alternative options: Consider offering hot water or decaffeinated tea flavored with honey as alternatives to plain water.
  • High-water-content foods: To aid hydration, incorporate foods with high water content, such as cucumbers, lettuce, melons, berries, and soups, into their diet.
  • Beware of dehydrating drinks: Remind your senior that coffee, soda, and caffeinated beverages don’t count toward daily fluid goals as they act as diuretics and can contribute to dehydration.

By implementing these strategies, you can ensure your senior stays hydrated while making the experience more enjoyable and varied.

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