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Hydration in Elders: More Than Just a Glass of Water

By Rita Miller-Huey  

(Page 2 of 2)

Psychosocial reasons. This is the elder who is cognitively impaired, and possibly unable to drink without full assistance, or those who may intentionally restrict fluid intake in the hopes of decreasing the risk of incontinence.
Economic reasons. This may include the lack of financial resources to maintain nutritional and fluid intake, extreme or prolonged weather fluctuations and the possibility of elder abuse.
How could you tell if your loved one might be becoming dehydrated? Ask yourself if they have any of the above mentioned risk factors. If they complain of nausea, are lethargic, have headaches, vomiting or dizziness, these could all be signs of dehydration. Call your doctor if your loved one had any or all of these symptoms.
Keep track of how much your loved one actually drinks in a day. A simple way to do this would be to put two quarts of water in the refrigerator first thing in the morning. Give all fluids for your loved one from his or her special pitcher. By the end of the day, they should have drunk most of the 2-quart pitcher. It could be plain water, water with lemon or other fruit juices made with water. Regular tea and coffee do not count because they promote fluid loss. Decaffeinated teas and coffees are OK (if your loved one will not drink plain water or juices) because they are less likely to promote urination. Foods that melt at room temperature, such as gelatin or ice cream also have a lot of water content. Serve foods with sauces, juices and gravies - every little bit helps.
There are some diseases for which it is not appropriate to offer so many fluids: congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver and kidney disease. However, for most of us, young and older, the rule of thumb is to drink, drink, drink to keep the body hydrated, and stay away from the hospital and all the tubes and therapy needed if dehydration does occur.


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