the art of caring for your aging loved one


An Empty Tank?

Too many of our seniors are chronically dehydrated.

Ask Uncle Jim how many glasses of water he usually drinks in a day. Go on, ask.

The tank is probably running on Low to Empty.

Dehydration occurs when a person is either not getting enough liquids or excreting too much urine. The body's ability to detect thirst diminishes with age. Illness and medication can also cause dehydration. A dehydrated person may need help drinking from a cup or glass and have trouble swallowing liquids.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Headache—the most common symptom
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • Cracked lips
  • Dry skin
  • Sunken eyes
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Dark, strong-smelling urine
  • Weight loss
  • Fast heart beat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion, light-headedness
  • Disorientation

Unless the doctor recommends reducing fluids for specific medical conditions, encourage your Aging Loved One to increase his intake of clear fluids.

Tactic: Use ice chips, popsicles, juice bars, gelatin, ice cream, sherbet, soup, broth, fruit and vegetable juices, lemonade, and flavoured water to incorporate liquids into the diet.

Caution: Tea, coffee, and soda pop may cause dehydration. Alcohol definitely causes dehydration.

Drain the Tank and Re-fuel

Explain to Uncle Jim that if he could boost his intake to 6 or more full glasses of clear water (8 fluid ounces each) daily, he well may notice a reduction in joint pain, heartburn, leg pain, high blood pressure, headaches, and back pain.

Uncle Jim may flinch at the thought of all that water and the subsequent bathroom visits. Encourage him to give it a try for a month. That's enough time to form a good habit.

Write little reminders and put them at the kitchen sink and on bathroom mirrors.

The easiest routine to follow is this:

After every bathroom visit, have a big drink of clear water.

Drain the tank and re-fuel. Replace the drinking glass frequently with a clean one.

This is easy, cheap medicine and one that too many people overlook.

A Giggle for you

An elderly man goes to the doctor and tells him that he hasn't been feeling well. The doctor examines him, leaves the room, and comes back with three different bottles of pills.

The doctor says, "Take the green pill with a big glass of water when you get up. Take the blue pill with a big glass of water after lunch. Then just before going to bed, take the red pill with another big glass of water."

Startled to be put on so much medicine, the elderly man stammers, "My goodness, Doc. Exactly what's my problem?"

The doctor says, "You're not drinking enough water."