As the sun blazes and temperatures soar, it’s time to pay extra attention to the health and well-being of our senior loved ones.
Dehydration can lead to a range of serious health issues for older adults. However, ensuring their adequate fluid intake can be a complex task for a variety of reasons.
We asked our Regional Director at Benton House, Nicole Regan, to share our tried-and-true method for helping your senior loved ones stay hydrated at home.
Keep reading to snag Nicole’s tips for creating a daily hydration schedule seniors will actually stick to. The secret? It’s not a “just-drink-more-water” snooze-fest.
First: Is Dehydration in the Elderly Really a Concern?
Short answer: yes. Pay attention to hydration if you’re involved in caretaking a senior. Let’s look at some stats.
Depending on how it’s defined, between 6% and 30% of people 65 years and older who are hospitalized are dehydrated.
While dehydration is the primary cause in only 1.5% of those cases, the fatality rate is as high at 50%.
Suffice it to say, supporting your senior loved one to maintain a healthy fluid intake is a crucial part of supporting their overall health.
Why Are Seniors at a Higher Risk for Dehydration?
Both appetite and thirst tend to decline as we get older.
So while mom’s body may yearn for a cool sip of water, she may not realize it. Obviously, this can lead to your senior loved one drinking less than they need to remain healthy.
Beyond not realizing they’re thirsty, seniors also experience a diminished ability to conserve water due to declining muscle mass and kidney functions. Taken together, you can easily see why this means that by the time mom or dad realizes they’re thirsty, they may already be experiencing low essential fluids.
Proper hydration decreases UTIs, improves mental cognition, boosts energy, stabilizes blood pressure, and so much more.
A Daily Hydration Schedule for Your Senior Loved Ones
Establishing a daily hydration schedule for seniors in your care may sound overly structured, but we find it helps make fluid intake a regular habit.
Our advice: Pay attention to their flavor preferences. Because focusing only on drinking pure water is a recipe for boredom and avoidance.
Incorporate herbal teas, infused waters, and hydrating foods to help make hydration more enjoyable and enticing. Let’s walk through an ideal day of hydration.
Optimal Mornings: A Full Glass of Water
Help your senior loved one start their day with their glass (more than) half full.
Even though a sip would suffice to swallow a pill, encouraging them to establish a routine of drinking an entire glass of water when taking their morning medication.
Since thirst is usually high in the morning, we find that a glass of pure water is often welcome and refreshing enough without any extra flavor.
Hydrating Breakfast to Kickstart their Day
Encourage breakfast options that prioritize hydration to set the tone for a vibrant and energized day.
Great options include a creamy Greek yogurt parfait topped with juicy berries or a comforting bowl of oatmeal with almond milk and peach slices.
Mid-Morning Hydration Boost
As the sun climbs higher, give their morning a refreshing lift with iced herbal tea and a water-rich snack.
Experiment with brewing a fresh pitcher of peppermint, hibiscus, or other refreshing herbal flavors in the morning for thirst-quenching sipping all day long.
Pair their glass of iced tea with hydrating snacks, like crisp cucumber slices or juicy watermelon cubes (which have 92% water content!). Bonus: these snacks not only quench their thirst but also supply their body with essential vitamins and minerals.
Stay Cool with a Refreshing Lunch
Whether it’s a glass of water or another glass of herbal tea, lunch is another great time to encourage fluid intake.
A nourishing midday meal includes at least one water-rich food. Try simple salads with leafy greens and tomatoes, chilled soups, and seasonal fresh fruit.
Afternoon Smoothies and Popcicles
There’s nothing like the refreshment of a sweet, cool treat on a hot afternoon. Smoothies and popsicles both make excellent hydrating snacks for your senior loved ones, as long as you keep them low in sugar and high in nutrients.
Opt for nutrient-dense ingredients (like fresh fruit or even mind-tasting veggies) and avoid excessive sugar or additives.
Bonus: smoothies and popsicles are both easy to consume for seniors with dental issues or limited chewing ability.
Nutrient-Dense, Water-Rich Dinner
Help them stay hydrated even as the sun dips below the horizon. Try infusing water with orange or lemon slices for an elegant thirst-quencher.
As with breakfast and lunch, we recommend also including at least one hydrating food with dinner. Whatever else is on the menu, toss in a delicious vegetable-focused side, like steamed broccoli with cheese sauce or classically comforting mashed sweet potatoes.
Toast to a Hydrating Evening
Since alcohol can be dehydrating, we recommend encouraging a booze-free nightcap as well. Experiment with swapping in different mocktails as you visit together in the evenings for a game of cards or to watch your favorite show.
Herbal tea blends make a great swap as well, which can have the added benefit of sleep-promoting herbs like chamomile.
Keep Your Senior Loved Ones Healthy with This Daily Hydration Schedule
As the warm breeze carries the scent of adventure, we’re on a mission to ensure that you have everything you need to help keep the beloved seniors in your care feeling their best.
Experiment with this daily hydration schedule from our Regional Director, Nicole Regan, to help your senior loved ones beat the heat at home.
Could you use more tailored guidance for helping support mom, dad, or another senior loved one in your care to stay hydrated?
Simply call us at 855-461-2552 or send us a message, anytime. We’re always here to support you.