The risk of dehydration is high among the elderly because many of them are not as aware of their need to drink sufficient amounts of water and some are not as active or mobile enough to get themselves a glass of water to drink. Among the elderly, water absorption and retention is also less efficient and thirst is reduced. To prevent dehydration among the elderly in an adult residential care home facility, consider these tips:
1. Always serve water with meals, snacks and medicines. If water is available with food, residents are more likely to drink. Be ready with refills as well. If necessary, ask residents if they want more or encourage them to drink more water.
2. Serve water and other drinks during activity hours and make sure these are within easy reach.
3. Water should be accessible in every adult residential care home facility. Invest in a portable water dispenser and keep cups and straws nearby. Remind everyone that water is always available and that they should always drink at least eight cups a day.
4. Serve vegetables with high water content. Vegetables such as cucumber, celery, tomato, zucchini, eggplant, spinach and iceberg lettuce are not only rich in water; they are also nutritious and filling. Serve vegetables as salads or steamed for entrees or in soup.
5. Try high-fluid snacks for residents who balk at the thought of drinking 64 ounces of water each day. Chopped or pureed fresh fruits and natural juices are tasty substitutes for plain water and likely to be a hit among residents who want a tasty treat. Try fruits such as watermelon and cantaloupe, along with pineapple, peach, plum, orange, blueberry, raspberry and apricot. These fruits may also be turned into frozen delights and served as sorbets and popsicles. Consider serving other high-fluid snacks as well, such as yogurt, custard, ice cream and an old favorite, jelly.
6. Discuss the issue of incontinence.
Residents in an adult residential care home facility may feel embarrassed about being incontinent as a result of drinking more water. Help make them feel comfortable about the issue and encourage them to drink the most water early in the day. They should also be encouraged to take bathroom breaks before bedtime and to feel comfortable about using undergarments designed to ease the problem of incontinence.