6 Ideas to Get Seniors to Drink More Water

get seniors to drink more water

Dehydration is a common problem for seniors

Dehydration is a common and very serious condition for older adults. The best thing to do is try to prevent it from happening, but it’s much easier said than done to increase their fluid intake! To help with this sometimes frustrating mission, we rounded up creative tips from fellow caregivers.


Dehydration can cause death

It’s important to prevent dehydration because it’s a common cause of hospitalization in people over 65 and can even cause death.

It can also cause other major health problems like kidney stones, blood clot complications, passing out, rapid but weak pulse, and lowered blood pressure. Being properly hydrated is also very important for certain medications to work.



6 ways to get seniors to drink more water

1. Remember there are many sources of fluids
Older adults don’t have to drink only plain water to get hydrated. Coffee, tea, fruit juice, sweetened beverages, fruits, and vegetables all contain water. If your senior really hates drinking fluids, serve them more foods with high water content to increase their hydration.

2. Keep water easily accessible
Sometimes, making it easy for seniors to serve themselves could encourage them to drink more water. Try putting a lightweight pitcher of water and a cup near their favorite seat.

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 warming up juices, making decaf iced coffee with cream, or adding soda water to make drinks bubbly.

4. Try something savory
Those who like savory foods may enjoy drinking hot soup broth. The broth can come from a can, box, or powder, but some older adults really like it – especially in cold weather.

5. Make popsicles
Homemade popsicles made from fruit juice or a mix of juice and water are a great summer treat. But they’re also a great way to get fluids into your senior.

6. Offer smoothies, milkshakes, Ensure, sports drinks
Some stubborn older adults may really resist drinking fluids. If so, you can try enticing them with smoothies, milkshakes, Ensure, or sports drinks. Sometimes they’ll like the flavor or texture and be willing to drink these beverages.


Bottom line

These are a few ideas to help you coax your senior into drinking more water. What’s important is to be creative and arm yourself with many different ideas in case their preferences change.

Be careful of health issues and check with the doctor when you have questions. For example, don’t give high sodium drinks to someone with high blood pressure, milkshakes to someone already overweight with high cholesterol, or heavily sweetened drinks to a diabetic.


Recommended for you:
Dehydration in Elderly is Dangerous
Check Medications for Dangerous Drug Interactions
Alzheimer’s or Urinary Tract Infection?


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: LiveStrong.com


  • Reply July 25, 2017


    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


      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


      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


      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


    Coffee is a diuretic and can cause dehydration.

  • […] aplaceformom – dailycaring – […]

  • Reply April 2, 2016


    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?

    • Reply April 2, 2016


      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!


  • Reply March 15, 2015


    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


      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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