6 Ideas to Get Seniors to Drink More Water

Prevent dehydration in seniors by using creative tips to get them to drink more water

Dehydration is a common and serious health problem for seniors

Preventing dehydration is important because it can cause serious health issues and is a common cause of hospitalization in people over age 65.

Being properly hydrated is also needed for certain medications to work.

Ideally, we’d be able to prevent seniors from getting dehydrated, but it’s tough to increase someone’s fluid intake when they won’t cooperate.

To make it easier to keep your older adult hydrated, we share 6 creative tips for getting seniors to drink more water.

 

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Use these ideas as a starting point

Each person has different habits, preferences, and health conditions, so what’s most important is to be creative and try different ideas until you find ones that work for your older adult.

It’s also essential to check with their doctor if you have questions about how a creative technique could affect their health.

For example, you wouldn’t want to give high sodium drinks to someone with high blood pressure, milkshakes to someone with high cholesterol, or sugary drinks to a diabetic.

 

6 ways to get seniors to drink more water

1. Remember that there are many sources of fluids
People don’t have to drink only plain water to get hydrated. Coffee, tea, fruit juice, sweetened beverages, fruits, and vegetables all contain water.

If dehydration is a serious issue for your older adult, but they really resist drinking healthy fluids, it may be necessary to make trade-offs like allowing them to drink less healthy options like sugary drinks or diet soda. 

To be sure that the pros outweigh the cons and their overall health will benefit, speak with their doctor. first

Or, try serving more foods with high water content to increase hydration without drinking fluids.

 

2. Keep water close by at all times
Sometimes, making it easy for seniors to serve themselves could encourage them to drink more water. 

Try keeping a lightweight pitcher of water and a cup near their favorite seat to make it quick and convenient to take a drink.

 

3. Experiment with beverages at different temperatures
Your senior may prefer hot drinks to cold, or the other way around. Experiment to find out which type they like better. 

Try different things like warming up juices, making decaf iced coffee with cream, or adding plain soda water to make tea or juice bubbly.

 

4. Try something savory
Those who like savory foods may enjoy drinking hot soup broth instead of a sweet or neutral tasting beverage.

For convenience, the broth could come from a can, box, or powder. It’s especially comforting in cold weather.

And if your older adult is watching their sodium intake, make sure to get a low sodium broth or consider making homemade broth.

 

5. Make popsicles
Homemade popsicles made from fruit juice or a mix of juice and water are a great treat and a great way to get more fluids into your older adult.

 

6. Offer smoothies, milkshakes, Ensure, sports drinks
Some stubborn older adults may really resist drinking fluids.

If so, you could try enticing them with smoothies, milkshakes, Ensure, or sports drinks even if they’re not the healthiest choices.

If they like the flavor or texture of these options, they may be more willing to drink them regularly.

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Zeppone Caring Hands


22 Comments

  • Reply November 29, 2018

    JoAnn Knutson

    Elizabeth,

    Many seniors really like creamed spinach. If your mom does that would be a way to get healthy dark greens into her.

  • Reply October 27, 2018

    Jenifer

    Meals on wheels is a low cost option that has helped me on days I don’t have someone else to help with my grandma who has some dementia. The chat a few moments, provide a hot meal, and are sure she is up and about. Contact your local senior center – lots of free resources available. Don’t be afraid to be specific when friends offer to help – like “can you stop by mom’s on Wednesday and hand her her pills with some ensure?”

    • Reply October 27, 2018

      DailyCaring

      Excellent suggestions! Thank you for sharing 🙂

      • Reply February 6, 2019

        Robyn

        Yes, Meals on Wheels is a very good option … as long as they eat everything that is delivered to them. For example, when my Mom and Step-father were receiving Meals on Wheels, he wouldn’t eat his vegetables, they got tired of the number of times they had the same meat in a week, not enough variety of foods, and they didn’t drink the milk (Skim or 1%) because “they drink regular milk”! So, yes, it’s a very good, healthy option for seniors, but it doesn’t do them any good if they don’t eat/drink it all. 🙁

        • Reply February 9, 2019

          DailyCaring

          It’s unfortunate that your mom and step-father didn’t enjoy their meals more, but it’s good that they had the opportunity to eat healthy meals that were delivered to them.

  • Reply August 19, 2018

    Frederick Horne

    Major point by Dr. Kernisan. My wife, 76, without speech due to small strokes, got very dehydrated,in part because of a UTI, which made her not want to drink.

    The trap for a caregiver is to chalk up inadequate drinking to ‘oh, she’s getting old and forgets’ or other mental impairment. My own experience was that, no there is a physical situation or medical condition they’re responding to. The response may be inchoate, and perhaps they don’t want to tell about their discomfort. But a UTI, or incontinence, or difficulty getting to the toilet—the ones doctor cited—may well be the problem.

    • Reply August 19, 2018

      DailyCaring

      Great points, thank you for sharing your and your wife’s experience. It’s important to investigate and understand the reasons someone may not want to drink beverages to stay hydrated.

  • Reply September 23, 2017

    Beverly Jeannie Gosch

    My Father in Law lives with us and has some “moderate” dementia. We offer him water, juices, and coffee and tea throughout the day, but unless we stay on him, he doesn’t drink. So it seems as though that’s how we are spending our day…constantly reminding him to drink.
    Am going to try some fruited jello to see if maybe eating the fluids doesn’t do better.

    • Reply September 24, 2017

      DailyCaring

      It can definitely be tough to get someone with dementia to drink enough liquids. They may forget about it if they aren’t reminded. It’s a good idea to try adding some water-rich foods to his diet. That might make it a little easier to keep him well hydrated.

  • Reply July 25, 2017

    gitty

    Sometimes my father has difficuly swallowing liquids but not solids so we freeze ensure in popsicle trays and he enjoys them! We also give him lots of melon and especially watermelon.

    • Reply July 25, 2017

      DailyCaring

      Great ideas! Love the creative thinking to find different ways to help your father get more liquids in ways that work with his abilities.

  • Reply June 27, 2017

    Shirley Dunmeyer

    I’m really interested to know what to do about my mom not drinking enough water or juice. I really believe that she doesn’t want to wet the bed at night. Thank you

    • Reply June 28, 2017

      DailyCaring

      That’s definitely a reasonable concern. I’d suggest encouraging her to drink plenty of beverages throughout the day and then stop a few hours before bedtime, making sure to use the toilet several times in the hours before bed. You may have to experiment a bit to find the ideal cutoff time for drinks, but limiting fluids before bed usually helps a great deal. She could also wear a pull-up style incontinence brief to sleep so she won’t be concerned about accidents. The intention won’t be to actually use the brief, but to have it on just in case she doesn’t make it to the bathroom in time.

  • Reply September 20, 2016

    Mike C

    My wife is 78 and a picks disease sufferer wheekchair bound and cared for at home by myself with the help2 daily visits from care agency. She needs constant encouragenebt t drink fluids. One of the care stafgf withsome nursing experience suggested sugar free Jelly which has proved very useful

    • Reply September 21, 2016

      DailyCaring

      Thank you Mike, that’s a great suggestion! This idea can help many people who struggle to get their older adults to take more liquids.

  • Reply July 18, 2016

    Radioactivegurl

    Coffee is a diuretic and can cause dehydration.

  • Reply April 2, 2016

    Elizabeth

    My mother is 90, going on 100, so she says. Most days are good. She is incontinent, and wears pads 24/7. I sort her meds, but have today found out she does not always take them. But says she ” only missed one dose”. They are in a daily sorted container kept in the kitchen, so it is obvious when they are not taken. She has become fearful of many things. She argues, so I try not to aggravate her.
    I cannot afford home care, I make $10 per hour, and do not get paid if I am not there. I do work close enough to go home at midday to get her lunch and chat. I am the only person she sees most days.
    Also, she has a cardiologist, a dentist, but no “family” doctor. She had a stroke last summer and hospital bills are high, as she only has MDCR.
    She is on Warfarin as second stroke prevention.
    Any ideas on how to do a Mediterranean diet for someone who cannot eat six servings of green leafy begs per week, and has difficulty with anything other than soft foods?
    Thanks.

    • Reply April 2, 2016

      DailyCaring

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds like your mom may be experiencing some cognitive decline and may need more help from you to take her medication correctly. Is there a way that you could give her the pills at the right times and watch her take them?

      It’s a good idea to develop a long-term relationship with an general practice / internal medicine doctor who will look after your mom’s overall health. A specialist, like a cardiologist, generally focuses on that specific area of the body. A geriatrician would be ideal since they have more experience with older adults. You may want to ask a trusted doctor or nurse for a referral.

      Your local Area Agency on Aging may offer free or low-cost services to help your mom and you. This article explains how these county organizations can help and how to find one near you — http://dailycaring.com/local-community-resources-for-seniors-and-caregivers-area-agency-on-aging/

      A Mediterranean diet is great for health. A big part of it is cutting down on processed foods, red meat, and excess salt. If green leafy vegetables are difficult to chew, try other types of veggies instead — carrots, peas, tomatoes, zucchini, beans, squash, avocado, sweet potato, etc. There are many excellent veggies (and fruits) that are great for the body and easier to chew and digest. Fish is heart-healthy and also easy to chew. Ground turkey or ground chicken might also be easy to chew and a nice alternative to ground beef or pork.

      I hope this is helpful!

      Best,
      Connie

  • Reply March 15, 2015

    DailyCaring

    Excellent point Dr. Kernisan! We absolutely agree with your suggestion to talk with the doctor to see if urination can be better managed, especially if the issues are caused by common medications.

    We also hear from caregivers that older adults don’t want to drink more water because they don’t want to go through the hassle and effort to get to the bathroom. We’ll be talking more about this in a future article…stay tuned everyone!

    • Reply October 27, 2018

      Jenifer

      Meals on wheels is a low cost option that has helped me on days I don’t have someone else to help with my grandma who has some dementia. The chat a few moments, provide a hot meal, and are sure she is up and about. Contact your local senior center – lots of free resources available. Don’t be afraid to be specific when friends offer to help – like “can you stop by mom’s on Wednesday and hand her her pills with some ensure?”

  • These are good ideas, but many seniors are worried about having to pee more often. That’s because it’s common for them to have problems like incontinence, overactive bladder, and enlarged prostates, to name a few. Some medications for blood pressure and heart conditions also cause increased urination.

    It might help for family caregivers to check and see if this is a concern. If so, they should bring it to the doctor’s attention. There are often ways to make urination issues more manageable, so that seniors stop feeling they need to avoid drinking too much.

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