What to Know About Dehydration and Dementia

Dementia and Dehydration
In the thick of summer, Poet’s Walk would like to take the opportunity to remind you that dehydration can be a serious concern for seniors. Unfortunately, dehydration can be especially common among those with dementia, who may be unable to care for themselves as needed or who simply may not have the capability to recognize when they are thirsty. In addition to utilizing our wellness tips when caring for your loved one, you may rely on the attentive memory caregivers at Poet’s Walk, trained to keep our residents and home care recipients hydrated and healthy.

Causes of Dehydration in Alzheimer’s Patients

Oftentimes, we don’t even realize we’re dehydrated. For seniors with dementia, dehydration can occur for a number of reasons and it is important to be aware of some of the most common causes:

  • Forgetting to drink. Dementia may cause seniors to forget to drink regularly, or they may forget that they even poured themselves a glass. Other times, dementia affects the brain in such a way that the body does not realize it needs water, so a senior may not even realize they are thirsty.
  • Medications. Common medications among the elderly, such as those for high blood pressure, are diuretics that make people lose a lot of fluid through frequent urination.
  • Inability to swallow. Sometimes, seniors find it increasingly difficult to swallow, so they may lose fluid by choking, coughing, or dribbling.
  • Mobility problems. If a senior has arthritis, rheumatism, or another condition, they may find it hard to get up from bed or get off a chair, so they forego getting a drink altogether.
  • Illness. Diarrhea and vomiting, especially common among senior cancer patients who may be undergoing chemotherapy, cause the body to lose a lot of fluid. Pay particular attention to your elderly loved ones if they are ill.

Signs and Symptoms of Elderly Dehydration

If your loved one exhibits these symptoms–especially if they experience a few of them at the same time, they may be dehydrated. Keep an eye out for…

  • Urine that is dark in color or has a strong odor
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Lips that are dry and cracked
  • Eyes that seem sunken
  • Lower than usual blood pressure
  • Irregular pulse– e.g. faster or weaker than usual
  • Feeling more delirious or confused than usual

Preventing Dehydration in Senior Dementia Patients

These are a few things you can do to make it easier for your elderly loved one to stay hydrated, especially if they have dementia. Here are some simple steps to preventing dehydration among senior dementia patients:

  • Leave little reminder notes or alerts. Reminders can be programmed or sent electronically, or you can place little sticky notes around the home. A simple “Stay hydrated – have a glass of water!” may be just the reminder your loved one needs to stay healthy.
  • Make it easier to drink. For those with immobility, look for ways to make it physically easier to drink. Use two-handled cups, water bottles with easy-to-open tops, or with one-way straws to help loved ones if they suffer from dexterity issues or declining coordination.
  • Leave out cups and jugs of water. Putting out water jugs and glasses around the home in places your loved ones spend a lot of time may remind them to drink more regularly, such as on the bedside table or a favorite TV watching chair.
  • Offer food with high water content. Foods that have a high fluid content, such as oranges, watermelon, yogurt, and cucumbers, can help replenish your loved one’s fluids if they don’t like to drink regularly.

To support our senior residents and home care recipients, we proudly offer a skilled team of caregivers who know the signs and symptoms of dehydration to watch for. Beyond this, we are pleased to serve as a resource for information about dementia and dehydration.

If you would like to find out about the services we offer or want to learn more about dementia and water consumption, contact us.