Dehydration in the Elderly with Dementia

by Debbie
(St. Johnsbury, Vermont)

My grandmother has dementia and we keep a close eye on her, but what would be a good way to keep track of her liquid intake (water) to make sure she does not become dehydrated?


What would be a good thing she could have to help her to remember to drink?

Are there any ideas that would be good for a caregiver to use to remind or keep track of liquid intake?

REPLY from Caring-for-Aging-Parents.com
Excellent question... dehydration can be a serious problem for seniors, especially those with memory issues. It is a common reason seniors are admitted to hospital.

To encourage her and remind her to drink:

The best advice is to always have a drink available. Water is the best but also have your grandmother drink fruit juices, gatorade and other drinks that provide electrolytes.

If she is also not eating enough, you might consider a nutritional supplement drink such as Boost, though this would be the best on the advice of a registered dietician or your physician.

Sometimes using smaller glasses can be helpful as some seniors find trying to drink a very large glass of liquid overwhelming.

I have also seen caregivers put signs up reminding their loved ones to drink. On their coffee table, TV and even their drinking cup (or water bottle).

Sometimes it also helps to add flavor to water so that it tastes better.

Using a straw might help some elderly with their intake (but not others). You can try one for a few days and see if this increases or decreases the amount of liquid your loved one takes in.

To track liquid intake:

Many caregivers use:

1) Daily logbook to track liquid intake
2) Use a water jug that you know what the measurements are. That way you just have to check how much is left in the jug - as long as she is the only one drinking from it.

To ensure adequate liquid intake:

  • always have water available; think about placing it in different places (a cup near her favorite chair, on her bedstand, on the bathroom sink, etc.).
  • eat soups regularly.
  • avoid diuretics (such as caffeine).
  • eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

Recognize symptoms of dehydration:

  • confusion
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • dry skin
  • urinary tract infections
  • headaches
  • Constipation in the Elderly (fluids are needed to soften stool).


For more detailed information about signs and symptoms, treatment and prevention, Dehydration in the Elderly.

Thank you,
Kevin

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