Author: Roger Alexander, LNFA
We all know the importance of getting our fluids during the hot summer months, but did you know it is just as important every day of the year?
Most of us keep our homes heated well during the winter and early spring, but we might not be getting enough fluids. How are these two things related? Our heaters have a way of drying out the air, while we’ve probably cut back on our fluid intake. This is isn’t good for anyone, especially your older loved one.
As we age, our kidney function decreases. Potassium can build up in our bodies and make it harder for our kidneys to work. Dry air can also contribute to dehydration, which is a major cause of illness and – ultimately – hospitalization.
Older people who have diabetes or who have lost a bladder have more trouble with their kidneys and are susceptible to kidney infections. Many end up in the hospital. Staying hydrated can prevent potassium build up and keep you or your loved one out of the hospital.
Here’s how you can encourage your elder to drink more water.
- Have a good drinking vessel that is easily carried.
- Use a straw. If you don’t especially like water, this is a way to get it down more easily.
- Drink a variety of fluids – Coffee, Tea, Juice – As well as water.
- Get your fluids through your foods such as soups and fruits.
- Never leave home without a container of water.
- Always have water next to where you sit while relaxing.
- Take a container of water with you when you go to bed.
- Drink plenty of fluids with your meals.
- Avoid alcohol – it will cause you to dehydrate faster.
- If you’re having trouble getting your older loved one to drink enough and they’re not diabetic, try drinks that are sweet, such as juice.
- Add a little lemon or limejuice to the water. It can really encourage you to drink more.
If you or your loved one are diabetic, you may have to watch for foods that are high in potassium – Potatoes, oranges, broccoli, beans (except for green beans), Whole Wheat products, chocolate, and nuts of any kind. You can check out a more extensive list on WebMD.
You may substitute rice for your potato dishes, or let cut up potatoes sit in water and drain twice before cooking. This leaches out the potassium. Symptoms of too much – or too little – potassium include muscle cramps, stomach cramps, vomiting and backaches.
Can you offer any additional tips for staying motivated to drink water, even when it may not be warm outside?