How to get someone with dementia to drink water?
Apr 12, 2022
Staying hydrated is incredibly important for anyone, but getting your LOWD to stay hydrated can be a challenge. Why is that?
You and I can tell when we are thirsty, can get ourselves a glass of water or other drink, and can physically drink it. Is the same true for your LOWD? In many cases a person with dementia’s brain may not tell them they are thirsty or, if it does, they may not be able to tell you what they need/want or be able to process how to get what they want. Furthermore, there may be physical challenges that make drinking more difficult.
Today I want to review some tips for getting your LOWD to drink more. If your LOWD has any problems with drinking or swallowing, make sure you consult with their provider or a speech.
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Before we get into the tips, why is it important to stay hydrated? Dehydration can cause problems for anyone but in your LOWD you may notice increased confusion, increased risk of a urinary tract infection, constipation, and headaches among other symptoms. All of these make life uncomfortable for your LOWD and can lead to increased behaviors.
So what can you do to help your LOWD stay hydrated?
- Keep water or other drinks close to your LOWD at all times. Always having something to drink close by increases their access to water. It is a very simple thing but can be very helpful. This goes particularly for when your LOWD is eating. This can be a natural time for you LOWD to drink and it often feels less out of place to provide reminders when your LOWD is eating.
- Provide frequent reminders. This can be as simple as reminding them that they have water by them or asking them if they are thirsty. If you do not live with your LOWD, this could look like phone calls with reminders. If they have a smart device in the home, you could set reminders for certain times throughout the day for it to remind your LOWD to drink some water. If you are in the home, take the time to make sure they see you drinking as well. Sometimes it can be as simple as modeling the behavior you want to see!
- Plan drinking breaks. Build in taking a break to drink into your everyday routine. If there are certain activities your LOWD does routinely, plan drinking breaks for before or after the activity, or consider adding it into natural pauses. For example, if they are helping you with sorting the laundry, plan a drinking break after each load of laundry is sorted or after all the towels are folded. If they enjoy doing word searches, consider taking a break to drink after each new word they find. Get creative with this!
- Pay attention to the color of the drinking glass. By this I mean, think about if your LOWD can see the glass of water on the table. Remember, they may have more difficulty seeing. One way to help with this is to make sure that they can see whatever glass you decide to use. Consider using a brightly colored glass.
- Related to considering what the glass looks like, you may also want to consider how easy or difficult is the glass for your LOWD to drink from. You may want to consider using a light, plastic glass which is easier for them to lift and will not break in the event of a spill. How easy is the glass to grip? Is the lip of the glass easy to drink from? Does your LOWD do better with a straw? Consider things like non-spill glasses, straw stabilizers, and weighted straws.
- Offer choices! Remember, while water is great for hydration, other liquids can still hydrate your LOWD. Consider offering things like tea, milk, coffee, and juice. You may also consider the water flavorings. This could be in the form of store bought water flavorers or could be as simple as adding a slice of fruit, mint, or cucumbers.
- Hydration can come from more than just drinks. Think about foods that have high liquid content. Consider things like icees, jello, soup, and yogurt. Remember, many vegetables and fruit also have high liquid content and have the added benefit of being healthy. Think of things like tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, apples, oranges, and blueberries.
- Talk with you LOWD’s provider. Medications can have many side effects. If you are worried about dehydration for your LOWD, you may consider asking your LOWD’s provider to review their medications for any side effects.
Careblazer, you know your LOWD best. Take these suggestions and modify them to fit you and your LOWD. Remember one of the best ways to avoid dehydration is to start building these ideas into your routine now.