Sunday, October 4, 2020

Hydration, Alzheimer's & Dementia take #2

If severe dehydration goes unchecked, it can cause seizures due to electrolyte imbalance, a reduction in the volume of blood in the body (hypovolemic shock), kidney failure, heat injuries, and even coma or death. 
With Alzheimer's and Dementia individuals, we have to be extremely proactive in keeping them well-hydrated if they have a  low intake of fluids it can cause major chaos in their system. 
Here are a few symptoms that indicate problems on the horizon.

Signs of Severe Dehydration:

Little or no urination

Dark or amber-colored urine

Dry skin that stays folded when pinched

Irritability, dizziness, or confusion

Low blood pressure

Rapid breathing and heartbeat

Weak pulse

Cold hands and feet

Picking up on the more subtle, early signs that a senior needs to up their fluid intake is crucial. Keep in mind that thirst is not usually a helpful indicator, because a person who feels thirsty may already be dehydrated. Initial signs to look for include headache, constipation, muscle cramps, dry mouth and tongue, and sleepiness or lethargy. Urine color is another helpful indicator and should be clear or light yellow for someone who is properly hydrated.

As a family caregiver, it’s important to be mindful of the signs and symptoms and to communicate with a doctor or health professional if you notice red flags that could indicate complications from fluid loss.

Ways to Increase Fluid Intake:

Remember, water isn’t the only option. Most fluids count towards the 64 ounces (except for alcohol), and many foods do too.

If a senior refuses to drink plain water, there are plenty of modifications and alternatives available. Try using water enhancers, opting for pre-flavored waters, serving a half water half juice mixture, or fruit-infused water. Always keep in mind, who likes plain water? not many people do, seniors tend to gravitate towards flavorful, tasty foods and liquids, put on your thinking cap on and get creative when offering nourishing flavorful drinks.

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.

How you serve beverages can have an effect on a loved one’s willingness and ability to drink them. This is especially true with people affected by Alzheimer's or Dementia. Experimenting with different serving temperatures may make beverages more appealing. Individual preferences vary regarding the palatability of different temperatures. Serving a drink at the desired temperature will increase the likelihood it will be consumed.

Drinkware can be an important component as well. Someone with low vision might be able to see an opaque, brightly colored cup more easily and therefore drink from it more often. Particularly resistant seniors may find a beverage more appetizing if it is served in a pretty glass or with garnish. For example, try serving a healthy smoothie in an old-fashioned soda fountain glass with a piece of fresh fruit on the rim.

Sometimes specialized drinkware may be necessary for those with swallowing difficulties, tremors, arthritis, motor skill problems, and muscular weakness. Cups with two handles, a no-spill lid, a built-in straw, or ergonomic features may simplify the process and prevent spills.

Foods Can Be Hydrating, Too

While water is the go-to for most people, 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. Use the list below to add foods to your loved one's diet that will help keep them hydrated.

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.