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Hydration and Dementia

In support of Nutrition and Hydration Week 2023, WISE spotlights the importance of adequate hydration for dementia and provides some helpful tips and advice.

Hydration is an important factor for everyone, but it is especially important for those with dementia. Adequate hydration helps to maintain cognitive and physical health and can reduce the risk of developing more serious health issues like urinary tract infections.

Unfortunately, those with dementia often have difficulty recognising and remembering the need to stay hydrated. This can lead to dehydration which can worsen their condition and increase the risk of serious health complications.

It is important for carers and family members of those with dementia to be aware of the importance of hydration and to take steps to ensure that the person they are caring for is getting enough fluids.

Here are some tips on how to encourage someone with dementia to stay hydrated:

  1. Make sure they always have access to water. Put a jug of water near their bed or a cup on their table so they can easily reach it.
  2. Make sure their drinking glasses are easy to recognise. This can help them remember to drink more often. It is also important to use contrasts in colour to help people with dementia distinguish objects and spaces so try bright-coloured cups.
  3. Offer them a variety of fluids throughout the day, not just water. Different flavours and textures can be more appealing and help them to stay hydrated. Try adding fruit slices or herbs.
  4. Monitor their intake of fluids throughout the day and make sure they are drinking enough.
  5. Watch out for any medications that can increase their risk of becoming dehydrated, such as diuretics, and discuss these with their pharmacist
  6. Encourage them to take regular walks or engage in other activities which will help keep them physically active and help them to stay hydrated.
  7. Use a straw: A straw may make it easier for the person with dementia to drink more water.
  8. Use reminders: Use reminders such as alarms or visual cues to remind the person of when to drink water.
  9. Incorporate water into meals: Incorporate water into meals and snacks by adding it to soups, smoothies, or other recipes. This can help make drinking more water a part of their daily routine.
  10. Provide support: Provide emotional and physical support to the person with dementia when they are drinking. This can help make the activity more enjoyable and help them to stay hydrated.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that someone with dementia stays hydrated and has the best chance of maintaining their cognitive and physical health. Adequate hydration is essential for everyone, but it is even more important for those with dementia. By taking the time to ensure that they are getting enough fluids, you can help them to stay healthy and comfortable.

Author: Dr Liza Thomas-Emrus

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