Dehydration and Dementia. The attached article is a very thorough look at the importance of hydration in the elderly, and how to assure that a person with dementia – who may no longer feel the thirst response and/or does not know how to express his or her thirst – is properly taken care of.
My husband and I went for a hike last summer during which we encountered a gentleman who I would guess was in his early 80’s. It was a warm, muggy day and my husband and I each had a 20 oz. bottle of water for our 3-mile hike. The gentleman was reviewing his hiking map and we stopped to chat with him about the fork in the road and which path lead where. “Sir, do you have a bottle of water that you can drink while on your hike today?” “No – not needed; I have a thermos of coffee waiting for me back at my car.” “I wonder, sir, with it being so hot and humid, if you might benefit from taking one of our bottles of water. I would be happy to give you one we’ve not used yet so you’ll be comfortable.” “That’s very kind of you, but I’ll be fine.”
So he went on his way but I told my husband I wasn’t comfortable with this fellow being on his own and could we please follow him at a distance to make sure he gets back to his vehicle. And so we did – and he returned to his vehicle, and no doubt partook of his thermos of hot coffee. Not very refreshing.
Although hot coffee and tea certainly contain water as part of their preparation, straight water – or even fruit juice – are a better option because of their lack of caffeine. Years ago, when I would visit one of my aging family members, you could always count on him holding that quintessential cup of coffee in his hand throughout the day. Regardless of the weather – no glass of water reached his lips – except perhaps when he took his daily vitamins or medications. This message is directed to those who provide care for the elderly, those who have older family members, and perhaps this message is also directed towards you. Drink good ol’ H2O. It doesn’t have to be packaged in a fancy bottle, you don’t have to purchase it, it’s always available at the touch of the nearest faucet, and you can access 100% water faster than making a pot of coffee.
What are you waiting for? Go get a glass of refreshing water!