5 ways to reduce the risk of dehydration in people with dementia
The summer months aren’t always guaranteed to bring sunshine here in the UK, but the recent heatwave we’ve experienced is a reminder that when the sun does come out, it’s wise to be prepared – especially if you’re caring for older people with dementia.
Dehydration can be a common issue among older adults, and it’s even more of a challenge for those with memory problems.
The way that dementia affects the brain means that individuals may not only forget to drink enough water, but that the area of the brain sending signals to let the person know that they’re thirsty doesn’t always work properly.
How to recognise dehydration
When someone is dehydrated, there are often tell-tale signs, including
- Dry mouth or lips
- Feeling tired
- Dark, strong-smelling urine
- Reduced urination (less than 4 times a day)
- Increased confusion
It’s vital that a person with dementia displaying these signs is encouraged to drink water immediately and receives medical attention.
How to prevent dementia-related dehydration
Now that summer has arrived, there’s no better time to think about how we can help our loved ones with dementia keep hydrated in the heat.
We’ve put together some practical summer safety tips for older adults with dementia that can be incorporated into their care, as well as five ways to help prevent dehydration in people living with dementia as the weather hots up.
Make sure water is within reach
Leave glasses or jugs of water within easy reach. If the individual you’re caring for with dementia has limited mobility and finds it hard to get up and make themselves a drink, this is extra important. Providing easy access to water can help reduce the risk of dehydration and the distress of not being able to move around to get a drink when they feel thirsty.
Set reminders or leave notes
It can be helpful to remind someone with dementia to have a drink regularly. Write notes and leave them in places the individual will see often. Alternatively, if they are able to use a mobile phone, think about setting reminders at intervals, prompting them to get a drink of water.
Make drinking easier
To reduce confusion and suspicion, make drinking easier for someone with dementia by using a clear glass so they can see what’s inside. An alternative might be to choose a brightly coloured glass or beaker, so they can see and find it easily, and having straws to hand can be useful for those who find drinking challenging.
Offer high water content foods
If the person you’re caring for doesn’t like to drink very much, you can top up their water levels by offering foods that have a high water content. Options include ice lollies, jelly, soup and fruit like melon, which can help supplement drinks as a way to stay hydrated in the heat.
Make the experience enjoyable
Drinking regularly, especially plain drinks like water, can feel like a chore. By making the experience more enjoyable, someone with dementia is more likely to want to drink often when the weather is hot. Share a drink and some juicy fruit together over a chat, stop by an ice cream van for a lolly during a walk and always make sure there’s plenty of water available during mealtimes.
Practical summer safety tips for older adults with dementia
Don’t forget that we’re here to help – Ambiance Advice is a dementia advisory service with all the information you need to make the best choices for yourself or your loved ones with dementia. Get in touch with us anytime on 0161 537 0983 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.