What to Know About Dehydration and Dementia

Dementia and Dehydration
Through our many years of providing attentive care to seniors, we have seen how easy it is for them to become dehydrated, especially of concern as we head into the dog days of summer. Whether you are caring for your loved one yourself or would simply like to learn more about the link between dehydration and dementia, Spring Hills is pleased to serve as a resource, dedicated to keeping seniors healthy and happy. If your loved one is residing at one of our assisted living facilities or receives private home care, rest assured they are being cared for by a team that understands just how important dehydration is and exactly what signs to look for.

Causes of Dehydration in Alzheimer’s Patients

Both young and old can have trouble remaining fully hydrated through the day—often times we don’t even realize just how thirsty we are! For seniors with dementia, there are additional causes to be mindful of, including:

  • Simply forgetting to drink. With dementia, one may forget to have a drink because they’ve forgotten where they’ve put their glass or why they were in the kitchen in the first place. Alternatively, if their brain doesn’t recognize that the body is dehydrated, they may not realize that they’re feeling thirsty.
  • Medication side effects. Many drugs, such as blood pressure medicines, have a diuretic effect. This effect may make individuals urinate more frequently, leading to a quicker loss of fluids.
  • An inability to swallow. Dementia–especially in later stages–can affect a senior’s ability to swallow. Choking, coughing, and dribbling is common and can result in an excessive loss of saliva.
  • Mobility problems. A lack of mobility could result from either dementia or another health condition (e.g. arthritis or rheumatism) and it can make it more difficult for a senior to get up from bed or from a sitting position to get something to drink. As a result, they may forgo the drink altogether, not realizing just how important it is.
  • An illness. If a senior is sick or undergoing chemotherapy, they may experience vomiting or diarrhea. As a result, they may lose excess fluids throughout the day.

Signs and Symptoms of Elderly Dehydration

Fortunately, there are quite a few telltale signs of dehydration. If you are caring for your elderly loved one and notice any of the following, they may be experiencing dehydration:

  • Darkly colored and/or strong-smelling urine
  • Skin that is drier than usual
  • Cracked, dry lips
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Headaches
  • Sunken looking eyes
  • Blood pressure that is lower than usual
  • Fast, weak, or irregular pulse
  • Increased confusion or delirium (especially when in conjunction with the other symptoms)

Preventing Dehydration in Senior Dementia Patients

There are many little things you can do that may be very helpful for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to increase their water consumption. Here are few tips that you can implement into your care efforts:

  • Gently remind them with notes or alerts. Leave brightly colored notes around their home or leave electronic alerts on their phone. Sometimes, all they need is a reminder.
  • Get creative and make it easier to drink. For seniors who have problems with dexterity or coordination, it may be easier to drink through a water bottle with a top that’s easy to open, a two-handled cup, or through one-way straws. Try different methods and see which works best for them.
  • Leave out cups and jugs of water. It may be a great reminder for elderly loved ones if they see a glass and some water next to their favorite chair, on the nightstand, or other places they frequent in the home.
  • Keep their kitchen stocked with foods high in water content. For seniors who don’t particularly like water, foods like pineapple and oranges, cottage cheese, and berries offer plenty of hydration. The team behind our dining services work to ensure our seniors have access to the nutritious foods they need, each and every day.

If your loved one is a resident of Spring Hills, you can be assured that our attentive and knowledgeable caregivers know what to look for and are dedicated to keeping clients well hydrated throughout the day. Don’t let your loved one suffer the repercussions of dehydration and dementia!

Contact Spring Hills to learn more about the effects of dementia and dehydration, or to find out more about our senior care services.