Our spring, in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, came late and continued into the summer months. Following suit, summer was late, and August was quite hot. This September is shaping up to be lovely and very warm as well. Talking about warm weather brings me to a topic that should be top of mind—hydration for people with Alzheimer’s disease. It is something to be concerned about everyday, but especially in very hot and dry weather and when outdoors.
It is important to make sure that your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is hydrated. This is easier said than done; because someone with Alzheimer’s disease, who’s brain processes are progressively decaying, has difficulty knowing and understanding his or her own need for hydration—they may overlook their body’s signal for thirst, and many can’t communicate their need for thirst, even if they felt it.
There are ways of keeping your loved one hydrated, while caring for them everyday; it only takes some planning and awareness. Here are a few tips:
1. Determine the need for hydration of the person with Alzheimer’s disease, according to their height and weight. A good website, which has a hydration calculator quiz, is http://nutrition.about.com/library/blwatercalculator.htm
2. Create a regular schedule around water intake (sometimes, only water will do to hydrate best).
3. An easy way to implement regular hydration in a person’s diet is to offer fresh fruit juices (mix a juice cocktail: carrot, apple, celery, with a bit of ginger), lemonades, milk, healthy milk shakes, and soups (beef and chicken broths are flavourful liquids) – through liquid food, which has nice flavour, you are able to keep up hydration.
4. If your family member with Alzheimer’s is very active (exercises, goes for walks, and wanders around the house regularly), try giving them a plastic bottle of water that’s easy to hold, and fill it up regularly. Perhaps mark their name on it for them.
5. Give tea– if they enjoy hot beverages, it’s good to always offer herbal and healthful teas (green, ginseng, and floral teas). Create a ceremony around tea, everyday, and your loved one will enjoy it as an activity, everyday.
6. Give fruit (orange, watermelon, and grapes) – these are full of juice and if eaten regularly they become part of the hydrating schedule.
Have fun in the kitchen mixing up some old fashion drinks such as a Root beer float or water with citrus fruits and mint – it will be delicious and wanted more often.
Off you go to hydrate yourself and your loved one!
Karen Tyrell, CDP, CPCA
Personalized Dementia Solutions
Dementia Consultant and Educator
You don’t have to journey alone.