Our aging loved ones have specific nutrition needs that are changing as they age.
The need for nutrients such as protein, water, vitamins and minerals, and fluid remains constant as their calorie requirements decline due to declining physical activity.
Unfortunately, as they get older, seniors tend to decrease their overall intake, putting them at risk for nutritional deficiencies that can impact their health and wellness.
During the summer heat and humidity, the need for adequate fluids can become a medical issue for our senior loved ones.
Family caregivers can help them make hydrating a habit!
Aging adults can have many obstacles to getting enough nutrition and hydration to meet their daily needs.
Decreasing physical activity, chronic medical conditions, multiple medications, budget considerations, fear of needing the bathroom and possibly falling on the way there, difficulty chewing or swallowing, altered taste, lack of thirst, loneliness, and functional loss reducing ability to prepare the food and fluid they need are all obstacles to health for aging in place seniors.
Getting enough to drink is a serious problem for seniors, one that can lead to hospitalization.
Current statistics show that most seniors don’t get enough fluids.
Symptoms of poor hydration
Family caregivers should be aware that symptoms of poor hydration can mimic other causes.
Dehydration can lead to:
- Labored speech
- Dry mouth, lips, skin
- Sunken eyeballs
- Low blood pressure
- Inability to sweat or cry
- Decreased or dark urine
8 Tips to Get In The Habit of Hydration
Making some of these strategies part of your senior’s routine will help them make drinking fluids an everyday habit for better health.
- Select foods that give them fluids, such as soup, gelatin, dairy foods, fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, grapes and cucumbers, juices, and popsicles. Food can give your senior as much as 20% of their fluid needs.
- Have them drink a glass of water each time they go to the bathroom, such as taking a drink when hands are washed. Keeping a small glass at the bathroom sink will help facilitate this.
- Keep a container of water within reach during the day to avoid having to get up for a sip.
- Drink milk, juice, or water at every meal.
- Pour the amount of water needed each day into a pitcher and keep it cold. Your senior will be able to visual that they haven’t (or have) had enough to drink with one look.
- Increase the enjoyment of plain water by making infusions with fresh or frozen fruits, adding lemon/lime/citrus slices, float some mint leaves in the glass or serve it with a fun glass or straw to give the water a special taste or appearance.
- Use a small water bottle instead of a larger one so that it is easier to hold and drink for seniors who may be a bit too weak to hold the heavier bottle.
- If they don’t like their water ice cold due to mouth pain, tooth sensitivity, or preference, serve it at room temperature.
Don’t let your senior’s need outweigh their want when it comes to drinking enough fluids, especially as hot weather and humidity increase their needs even more.
The importance of staying hydrated every day as senior loved ones age can help them avoid the need for medical intervention.
Here are some additional articles that family caregivers may find helpful to help their seniors get in the habit.