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Heat, hydration, and dementia

Happy grandmother at homeStaying hydrated is important for our residents year round, but as temperatures climb, it is especially critical. There are a number of ways a person with dementia can become dehydrated:

Underlying medical condition: Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration.

Side effects from medicine: Many medications may induce a diuretic effect, so it is important to read labels carefully.

Weak swallowing: As dementia progresses, the brain function that tells us intuitively to swallow can slowly deteriorate. This may result in the person not drinking or eating as often.

Memory loss: This is likely the most common reason for dehydration: simply forgetting to drink water.

How do we help our residents stay hydrated at Autumn Leaves? What works for one resident may not work for another, so we take a multi-pronged approach to ensure our residents have ample access to water throughout the day.

Hydration stations: No matter where a resident is in the community, a hydration station equipped with cold water and cups is always nearby. Our culinary team will often add slices of fresh seasonal fruit to the water jugs for an extra flavorful and healthy treat that many residents enjoy.

Water-dense foods: This is a great (and tasty) way to get water into our residents’ diets. Foods like watermelon, oranges, and berries are high in water content. You’ll often find residents enjoying a delicious chilled fruit cup for their snack.

Limited time outdoors: While our residents love being outdoors in the warm sun, we closely monitor the amount of time they spend in the summer heat. And of course, making sure they have plenty of water while outdoors is paramount.

Gentle reminders: Whether it’s extra assistance at mealtime to help ensure they’ve had enough to drink, or a glass of water personally delivered to a resident wherever they are in the community, our staff goes the extra mile to make sure residents stay hydrated not just during the summer, but all year long.