Increasing hydration for people living with dementia

Challenges with eating and staying hydrated are amongst the lesser-known issues that can arise for people living with dementia. It can be difficult for loved ones fulfilling a caring role to know what the best approaches are to ensure a person living with dementia is taking on enough liquid.

Luckily, there is lots of support available and strategies to try to prevent dehydration, especially as we move towards the warmer months in the UK. Being aware of potential problems with recognising thirst is the first step, offering a chance to counteract them before a serious condition sets in.

How to encourage people living with dementia to take on more fluids

While Age UK recommends six to eight drinks of 200ml a day, it might be time to think outside of the box when it comes to those living with dementia taking on more liquid. If your friend or relative is resistant to drinking an appropriate amount, there are other ways to stay hydrated.

Foods with a high water content

Consuming foods with a high water content contributes to staying hydrated without needing to drink. These can include anything from soups to milky desserts and jelly that could be particularly appealing to someone living with dementia who has developed more of a sweet tooth.

Prepared fruit

Easy to eat fruit, such as slices of apple or berries contain a large proportion of water, as well as beneficial nutrients. Placing a bowl of prepared fruit near to your loved one may encourage them to pick at it throughout the day.

Ice lollies

Refreshing ice lollies are purely liquid, just in frozen form, and are very effective for staying hydrated. Their bright colours, as well as the allure of something so cold when temperatures start to rise, can make them popular with people living with dementia.

Make water more appealing

It’s well-known that drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated, but if your loved one isn’t keen on the drink, there are ways to try and tempt them. From adding squash to putting slices of cucumber in the water jug, these methods can appeal to both the eyes and the taste buds.

Don’t overlook hot drinks

Tea, coffee and hot chocolate can contribute to the daily intake of liquid, so include these in the offerings to a person living with dementia. Even if your loved one only drinks half a cup of tea, it’s better than going without.

Drink together

Just as eating can be a social activity, drinking together can be a way to spend time in each other’s company too. Chatting over a cup of tea or other drink can take the emphasis away from trying to coerce someone living with dementia into sipping their drink, making it more natural.

Water drops

Sweets have been developed with 95 per cent water specifically for those living with dementia. Presented in a teardrop shape, they contain additional electrolytes and are sugar-free, but particularly appealing to those with memory loss. They’ve gained the backing of the Alzheimer’s Society as an effective method for taking on more water.

Put drinks within easy reach

Leaving drinks within easy reach of your loved one is an effective way to facilitate them consuming more fluids. It means they can reach for them of their own volition without you trying to coerce them into drinking. Once you’ve identified the types of drinks they like, be sure they’re always close to hand.

Choose a cup carefully

Not all people living with dementia have the same issues, so choose a receptacle that will suit your loved one’s needs. That could be a clear glass so they can see what’s inside, a brightly-coloured cup that draws attention, a chunky mug that’s easy to hold or the addition of a straw to prevent spills and facilitate sipping.

Awareness of concerns

It's not always immediately apparent why someone living with dementia is resisting drinking. A common anxiety can be that it will make them need the toilet and that they might get caught short. This issue can be difficult to broach, but some gentle reassurance that there’s a toilet nearby can sometimes be enough.

Find your nearest Barchester care home