Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Hydration is the name of the game for Seniors

 There are a few reasons why older adults are more susceptible to fluid and electrolyte imbalances. With age, our body’s ability to conserve water is reduced. This can make it more difficult to adapt to things like fluctuating temperatures. Additionally, the sense of thirst diminishes with age. By the time someone actually feels thirsty, essential fluids could already be extremely low. This is especially alarming with Alzheimer's, Dementia, and anyone suffering from Memory impairment. We have to be extremely vigilant of their liquid intake and keep the dreaded UTI (urinary tract infection) at bay. A UTI can be pure chaos for a Senior. I'm a firm believer in prevention.

Certain medical conditions and medications can affect a senior’s ability to retain fluids. Individuals with dementia may forget to eat and drink, and in more advanced stages may have difficulty swallowing. Drugs like diuretics, antihistamines, laxatives, antipsychotics, and corticosteroids can cause frequent urination that depletes water and electrolytes. Furthermore, seniors who experience incontinence often purposely refuse or limit fluids in order to avoid accidents. A good rule of thumb is to try balancing fluid intake with output. If a senior is sweating or urinating more frequently, then their fluid intake should become more frequent as well. If a loved one is suffering from an illness that causes fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, carefully monitoring fluid intake is crucial.  This is especially true for individuals with Alzheimer's, Dementia, and other memory impairments.

This is why we need to be extremely creative when offering alternatives to increase their liquid intake, it's not just about water. Who likes just water? let's get creative and think outside the box on what can be consumed that counts as a liquid. If you want to increase their electrolyte consumption how about Gatorade or Powerade mixed with regular water? there are many ways to increase the liquid consumption, the power drinks are better than plain tap water because they provide minerals to replace electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) lost from dehydration. They also increase blood sugar (glucose), so the drinks aren't recommended for people with glucose intolerance, something to be mindful of when offering drinks with high sugar content. 

Most fluids count towards the 64 ounces (except for alcohol), and many foods do too. Try using water enhancers, opting for pre-flavored waters, serving a half water half juice mixture, or fruit-infused water. Consider both savory and sweet flavors. Warm chicken, beef, or vegetable broth can provide a soothing savory source of fluids and electrolytes that seems more like a “meal” and less like a drink. For those who are fond of sweets, popsicles, milkshakes, and smoothies may be more enticing options that function as a sweet vehicle for fluids. You can always add other liquids to cut the sugars if that is a concern, maybe add coconut water? or quinine water?

Keep in mind that beverages are not the only source of fluids. Raw fruits and vegetables can pack a hydrating punch as well. For example, a small plate of cut vegetables, like celery sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper slices served with a healthy dressing or hummus for dipping can be a nutrition- and fluid-filled snack. You may also want to consider the drinkable yogurt, providing a good source of calcium,  protein, and flavor, not a lot of sugar, if you contemplate the greek yogurt.

While these helpful guidelines make good health-sense, it is important to stay in communication with your loved one’s doctor and keep in mind that managing some medical conditions, such as heart failure and kidney or liver disease, may require intentional restrictions of fluid intake. Keep in mind that you can become dehydrated in cold weather, too!

We are on this bumpy road together, you are not alone!
Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered.
I send you beams of virtual good vibes.