Caregiving Monday–The Importance of Staying Hydrated

We were recently concerned that my grandmother had become dehydrated.  In these hot temperatures of 80s, 90s, and even 100+ degree weather, it is important for senior adults to stay hydrated.

elderly water          When a senior adult becomes dehydrated this causes confusion, lead to muscle cramps, lead to fatigue, headaches, irritability and increase the possibility for falls.

However, GG* and other senior adults that I’ve worked with do not like to drink much.  One excuse commonly given is they do not want to go to the restroom very often.

Meal times is when most senior adults have the bulk of their liquid intake. I’ve tried explaining to GG that she needs to drink at least 8 oz of water at breakfast and then 8 oz in each three hour block she’s up.  Unfortunately, we ignores me and looks at me like I’m crazy.

There are some tips that might encourage senior adults to drink more:

  • Fix special beverages s/he will enjoy  {ex. GG loves hot chocolate, so I fix her a cup each morning}
  • Milk in cereal

    Jello is a great way to help the elderly stay hydrated
    Jello is a great way to help the elderly stay hydrated
  • Cup of tea in the afternoon with crackers and fruit
  • Soups
  • Fruit—especially those such as grapes, oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. that are water based
  • Juice—there are many to choose from but check the contents for one more water based and less sugar based
  • Popsicles—again there are many to choice from, but look for one that is healthier and more water or juice based and less sugar based
  • Foods that are water based such as applesauce, yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding and jello.


Remember that it is important to encourage regular sips of water throughout the day.  Many senior adults only take baby sips.

It is important to drink plenty of water, especially in extreme heat.
It is important to drink plenty of water, especially in extreme heat.

Also, encourage heavier consumption in the morning and afternoon than in the evening.  Most senior adults do not enjoy getting up to go to the restroom on a regular basis.

How do you encourage your senior adult to stay hydrated?


*Name altered

Understanding Your Plate

When I was growing up, we had the pyramid to explain the basics of how we should eat.  This was what was taught in the schools and while very straight forward, was confusing to many people.

Last year the White House introduced a replacement to the pyramid.  This is called the food plate, which shows what your plate should look like at each meal.  In many ways it is much simpler and easier to understand than the pyramid.     food pyramid

Let’s take a look at the food plate for better understanding:

Protein—these are your meats and should not be larger than the palm of your hand.  Research has shown that meats such as fish and chicken are healthier than red and processed meat {hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, etc}.   Red meats and processed meats should be limited to once or twice a week, while you enjoy fish and chicken the rest of the week.

Whole grains—these are your carbohydrates and should cover a fourth of your plate. Whole grains are gentler on your blood sugar and insulin than the refined grains we normally eat.   Some examples of whole grains are whole wheat, brown rice, barley, whole wheat pasta, etc.

Vegetables—almost half of your plate should be filled with some sort of vegetable.  These are low in calories but very filling.  Vegetables are rich in color and nutrients.  A few vegetable suggestions would be green beans, carrots, squash, peppers, etc.

the food plate         Fruits—fruits should make up half of the plate with your vegetables.  Between your fruits and vegetables you would have a very colorful plate.  Many fruits are naturally sweet and cut that craving for something sweet. A few fruit suggestions are banana, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, apple, grapes and oranges.

Drink—water is the best drink in the world.  Standard guidelines recommend eight glasses of water per day, but some people need more.  An occasional cup of coffee and tea are also healthy and beneficial.  Skip the sugary drinks found in soft drinks and sports drinks, while limiting juice, milk and other dairy products to no more than a serving or two a day.

Of course, no action plan is complete without a good exercise plan.   I encourage you to try and exercise at least thirty minutes each day.

Does your plate look this balanced?  Where can you make changes to your plate?