Between longer days and warmer nights, we love summertime for all its opportune moments to get out in the sun and soak up some much-needed vitamin D! But with warmer weather often comes a greater threat of dehydration and heat stroke. For seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, an extra layer of protection is needed to ensure their safety while making the most of the summer days.
Dehydration poses a greater threat to seniors, especially those who might have difficulties recognizing or communicating when they have reached the peak of exhaustion. The Alzheimer’s Society describes how the part of the brain that recognizes dehydration might be unable to send a message that lets the person with dementia know when they’re thirsty, preventing them from being able to take the initiative towards refueling their bodies.
Drinking plenty of water is generally the rule for warding off dehydration; however, we know that this might not always be an easy task for some. A Place for Mom notes how older adults are at a much higher risk for dehydration as their memories change and their bodies aren’t able to store as much water. So, the first step to helping encourage proper intake during the hot summer days is to ensure that water is always readily and easily accessible for the seniors in your care.
Throughout the day, continually offer water, and maybe even sit with them to enjoy a drink yourself. This is not only the perfect chance for you to keep yourself hydrated, but A Place for Mom also describes mirroring as being an effective guiding measure towards encouraging hydration. So, when your members see you take a drink of a nice cool glass of water, they will likely mimic you by doing the same.
If you’re having trouble encouraging some of your senior members to drink water, consider offering them an alternative. As our bodies sweat, we lose water and certain electrolytes, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Water-rich foods, like melon, cucumbers, and high-protein broths, can help promote hydration while replenishing the body’s electrolytes. For seniors with an avid sweet tooth, you could even consider giving sugar-free popsicles or smoothies, as suggested by AgingCare.
As a bonus, you can turn making sweet summer treats into an engaging indoor activity! For example, invite your residents to help prepare some creamy homemade popsicles. This activity is easily customizable and only requires a few simple steps: mix some pureed fruits of their choice with their preferred brand of yogurt, pour the mixture into a silicone molding, and pop them in the freezer to chill. Live Eat Learn lists various fruit and veggie options perfect for this activity.
Summer is in full swing, and, despite having Alzheimer’s or other related dementias, there is still some room for the seniors in your care to have fun – even in the “heat” of the moment. By getting creative and putting a few extra precautions in place, you can help your members stay hydrated so they can thrive in the summertime!
EngAGE EnCOURAGE™ offers an easy-to-use e-learning platform designed for care partners wishing to get people learning, laughing, and creating. This engaging communication treats people with cognitive impairment as valued individuals and improves their quality of life.
EngAGE EnCOURAGE™ provides a quality curriculum for resident or member programming at assisted living communities, adult day clubs, and memory care providers. Reach us via email or toll-free by phone at (602) 418-5196.