File this under, “Things You Learn Caring for An Aging Parent”!
I remember my dad drinking coffee (lots of coffee). Drinking iced tea with meals. Having an occasional, small glass of juice with breakfast meals. Drinking an occasional beer or bourbon. But, looking back, what I now realize is I never, remember him ever drinking was water. EVER!
This has been a huge issue over the last year. We’ve been to urgent care or the emergency room six times. Four out of the six ended up being symptoms due to dehydration. (the other two he wanted to go for a sore throat and for urination issues – they sent him home with no meaningful diagnosis… he did get pre-cautionary antibiotics for sore throat though)
The more I talk to people in similar situations with aging parents the more I discover this is a VERY common issue.
My dad was diagnosed with moderate dementia several years ago. He’s been on medication (medication for older adults… that’s a “whole ‘nother” post!) ever since.
Florida, for aging folks, is a very interesting place. While there are obviously some great medical folks and facilities there… well, my impression is there are also some folks there going through the motions of caring for aging patients.
While I’m no where near a medical expert, observing dad and his situations has left me very suspicious that the symptoms that led to his dementia diagnosis may have been at least partially if not completely the result of dehydration.
When I got here, I set out to ensure he was intentionally taking in enough fluids and moving daily. The image at the top of this post is from a sheet I created and printed out weekly to track his be-healthy activities (for him, but as much as for me to keep track).
The water intake chart was useful for me to 1) know what he had and had not had, and 2) as an illustration point for him when he was feeling weak and/or foggy. I would color in each “bottle” as he consumed it. I included any meaningful H2O including that in his daily laxative (this is a later post… SMH), but only H2O. It took about nine months for him to finally accept that how he felt was directly linked to how much water he consumed the days before.
Now we’ve transitioned from the sheet to three 16.9 oz bottles of water filled daily with big bold numbers on the caps (1), (2), and (3). He begins bottle (1) as he goes to sleep each night, and knows he is supposed to finish bottle (3) before getting in bed the next night. I still have to remind him occasionally – “How are you doing on water today?”, but overall this battle is no longer one of our primary daily battles.
For The Dad
The visual tracking was invaluable in driving home that his clarity of mind was directly related to his intake of water the days before.
I’m determined to ensure my H2O intake is never an issue as I move into my senior years.