For many people, the risk of dehydration caused by not taking enough fluids is not a concern. However, patients with dementia are often at risk, mainly due to difficulty swallowing and forgetfulness. It is therefore important for anyone taking care of dementia patients to find ways to encourage them to take more fluids. Here are a few ways you could do so.
Set Reminders and Frequent Prompts
In cases where a patient with dementia cannot take a lot of fluid at once or frequently forgets to do so, it is important to set reminders, so they know to take fluids more frequently. The aim should be to space out the prompts so they consume enough fluids per day. Keeping a bottle of fluids or water nearby and encouraging them to drink from it can work. So can setting up mobile alerts.
You can also take fluids around your patients, so they know to copy you and model your behavior.
Water can be bland for dementia patients, especially those who take lots of water and smaller amounts of other types of drinks. To help a patient drink more water, use fruits and vegetables to enhance the flavor. Cucumber, lemon slices, blueberries, and strawberries are just a few examples of what you could try.
Try various variations until you land on a combination that your patient will not only love but will look forward to.
Make Liquids Thicker
Many dementia patients have problems swallowing fluids due to reduced muscle tone in the esophagus and pharynx, which occurs as we age. When this happens, the fluids can go down the windpipe, leading to coughing, choking, and even serious infections like pneumonia. The feeling of fluids going down the windpipe can make some people with dementia combative when it comes to taking fluids.
Thickened fluids are just the fluids a loved one would normally take mixed with a thickener. Thickeners make fluids easier to swallow and reduce the risk of aspiration. They do this by slowing the flow of liquids, so the body has more time to react and control the fluids. This way, they end up in the stomach instead of going down the windpipe.
By providing a much better and more pleasant experience, they make those with dementia more likely to take more fluids. Depending on the patient’s needs, they can choose between thickeners with a mild or moderate consistency. Fluids mixed with SimplyThick thickener retain their consistency and do not continue to thicken, so they can be taken over time and at a comfortable pace.
Explore Other Fluid Sources
While it is true that the main sources of fluids are water and beverages like coffee and tea, there are many others. Plain fruits and vegetables, juices, and sweetened beverages all contain lots of fluids. Just ensure that you find alternatives to sodas and sweetened beverages that do not contain too much sugar.
Ensuring a dementia patient takes enough fluids is critical to ensuring they do not get dehydrated. Because everyone is different, you will need to find a solution or a combined solution for individual patients to get them to take more fluids.