4 Strategies to Encourage Fluid Intake

You know very well the importance of drinking lots of water and remaining well-hydrated. You personally can’t leave the house without your water bottle and you make sure to drink regularly.  But despite your best efforts, you just can’t seem to get your elderly father to drink more than a sip at a time.  He says he already had lots to drink, but with his dementia, that isn’t always accurate.

How can you get your father to drink more fluids?

Switch up the Options

While plain old water may be the healthiest option, sometimes it just isn’t exciting enough to entice someone to improve their hydration habits.  Try flavouring water with fresh fruit or vegetables.  Water with lemon and lime, or cucumber slices, or strawberries may offer some flavour and also be visually appealing.

 

Herbal teas are a good option for flavour, without adding sugar.  Many herbal teas can be enjoyed either hot or cold and provide a nice alternative to plain water. Providing fluid options that contain sugar or additives may not be as ideal, but it is still better than being dehydrated. If your father won’t drink anything but soda, try watering it down a little to reduce his sugar intake.

 

Pour Small Glasses

It may seem counter-intuitive to pour small amounts if you’re trying to get someone to consume more liquid, but it can be effective.  A huge glass of water may feel insurmountable.  A small glass at a time may seem manageable.

 

With a small glass, you can suggest refills regularly. When there is still liquid in the glass you can say: “oh, let me freshen that up for you. But don’t waste it—finish it off and I’ll get some more.” Appealing to the desire to not waste anything can be highly effective.  Most seniors do not like to waste anything, even water!

 

Try a Straw

For some people, drinking through a straw is easier and will result in drinking more than if they took sips from a cup.  In fact, the very reason fast-food places serve soft drinks with a straw is that studies proved people will drink more when sipping from a straw.  If it’s enough to boost sales for McDonald’s it may be enough to help your father improve his fluid intake too!

 

Cheers!

For those who have dementia, rationalizing why they should drink more will not be effective.  Tapping into an automatic response and reflex can be highly effective though.

 

Every time you take a drink from your glass, reach out your glass and say “Cheers!”  Most people will pick up their glass to clink yours and follow it with a sip. In many cultures, it’s considered rude to not take a sip from the glass after clinking “cheers”.  Someone with dementia may not recall that you’ve already said “cheers” repeatedly over the past hour.  Not only will they benefit from increased fluid intake, but they will also benefit from the positive association with saying “cheers” and feeling connected to you.

 

Encouraging greater fluid intake can have important impacts on your loved one’s health.  Be sure to share any additional strategies you’ve tried and let us know which of the above strategies is most effective in your family!

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What is Elder Abuse

During the pandemic, many of us have been feeling lonely or isolated. We miss seeing our family and friends in person. For some older adults though, the feelings of loneliness and isolation started long before the pandemic. 

 

grey photo of an older man wearing glasses

 

For some seniors, the pandemic restrictions have only exacerbated the social isolation they were already experiencing.  Social isolation is not only a concern for physical and mental health; it is also a risk for elder abuse.  Older adults who are socially isolated are at higher risk of elder abuse. 

 

What is Elder Abuse?

 

It is the mistreatment of an older adult by someone they should be able to depend upon and trust. 

 

Elder abuse can take many forms such as: financial, psychological, physical, sexual, or neglect.  It often occurs when there is an imbalance of power and an older adult’s rights are disregarded.  Intimidation, humiliation, or coercion can make an older adult feel powerless.

 

By definition, elder abuse is perpetrated by someone in a position of trust, oftentimes, a family member, close friend, or caregiver.  The sense of betrayal and hurt runs deep, and the situation becomes even more complex when the older adult depends on that person for all of their care or daily needs.

 

Elder Rights are Human Rights

 

Older adults deserve to:

  • be treated with respect and dignity
  • experience human rights and protections regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, or socio-economic status.
  • make their own decisions and retain autonomy
  • have access to health care, social and legal service

As a community, we can band together and expect dignified treatment of all older adults. By promoting the human rights that older adults are entitled to, we can set the expectation that elder abuse is never acceptable.

 

quote “The term ‘innocent bystanders’ is an untruth. Those who do nothing when things are amiss, give permission for injustice to continue.” said by June Callwood

 

Elder Abuse Prevention

 

Elder abuse is everyone’s business. Elder abuse can happen to anyone; it is up to the community as a whole to help prevent abuse from occurring.  By fostering an inclusive and welcoming community, all older adults will feel safe and supported.

 

What Can YOU Do to Help?

  • Stay connected with older adults in your life!  Continue to check in even if visits are virtual.
  • Educate yourself on signs and risk factors associated with elder abuse.
  • Inform older adults of their rights; create a supportive environment where it is possible for seniors to make their own, informed decisions.
  • Feel free to ask “are you okay?” and truly wait for honest answers.  Initiate tough conversations.
  • If there are warning signs and you suspect abuse, report it.

Preventing elder abuse is a community responsibility.  You can be the person that makes a difference for the older adults in your life. Stay connected and promote the human rights to which all older adults are entitled!

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