Drinking enough fluids every day is very important for good health. Not getting enough fluids can increase one’s risk for complications such as dehydration and constipation, but getting persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to drink the recommended 6 to 8 cups of fluid each day can be difficult. At times, persons with AD will refuse to drink, but all difficult behaviors can successfully be managed by using creative strategies.
Here are some practical strategies for caregivers to try:
- A good basic approach to caregiving for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is to anticipate needs before they occur. Set a daily schedule for eating and drinking. In the case of hydration, identify key times during the day that offering fluids fits naturally into other types of activities. For example, before and after taking a walk, sitting down to watch a movie, enjoying an afternoon on the back porch are all times that offering fluids makes sense.
- If your person with AD tends to wander during the day, try offering fluids with lids so that he/she can continue to walk but may be cued to take a drink of fluid from time to time.
- You may need to consider simplifying the environment at mealtime by removing excess dishes and plates, leaving only the main plate, a utensil and a glass for fluids. Changing the environment in such ways helps to decrease the distractions at mealtime.
- Try a new flavor to an old drink by splashing some fruit juice in a glass of water, adding lemon or sliced cucumber to water, or serving a flavored, decaffeinated tea. Try adding fruit ices, popsicles, and gelatin desserts to the diet.
- Getting a person with Alzheimer’s disease to drink 8 cups of fluid each day can be achieved if you offer and encourage fluids throughout the day instead of only at mealtimes. Keep a bottle of water near a favorite chair or in the car to remind you and your loved one to drink more often.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) developed an oral solution containing sugars and salts to improve absorption and prevent dehydration. This solution can be prepared at home by mixing the following:
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