Summer may be nearly over but the heat goes on for most of us in the Five County area. Do you know how to stay hydrated and avoid heat exhaustion? Or how to help your loved one that you’re taking care of?
Here are 5 tips for staying hydrated or helping your loved one stay hydrated, and what to watch out for if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the heat or think your loved one might be.
Drink a glass of milk, water or juice with every meal and every time you or your loved one takes a medication. Offer to your loved one, don’t suggest. Have a drink together.
Don’t overdo it on caffeinated or alcoholic drinks that can have a dehydrating effect.
Always take water when you go out and take drink breaks while you’re out.
Make water more appealing by adding lemon or lime slices or berries. Or try smoothies, milkshakes, popsicles or even a hot broth or soup if water just isn’t appealing.
Eat and offer high water content foods like oranges, grapes, berries, lettuce, melons, cucumbers tomatoes and bell peppers.
There are a lot of reasons we sometimes don’t drink enough. Maybe we just forget as we’re going about our day. Our loved one may have incontinence issues and not want to have any accidents so they’re avoiding drinking anything. Or they may have medications that are affecting feeling thirsty. Keep these in mind when working on staying more hydrated.
Thirst is not a good indicator of being dehydrated since you can already be dehydrated when you get thirsty. Instead, look for these initial signs of low hydration in yourself or your loved one: headache, constipation, muscle cramps, dry tongue or mouth or sleepiness and lethargy. Then take steps to get some fluids in your body or get your loved one to drink some fluids.
If dehydration becomes more severe, the symptoms can include: little or no urination, dark brown or amber urine, weak pulse, low blood pressure, dry skin that says folded when pinched, irritability, dizziness or confusion, rapid breathing and heart beat, cold hands and feet.
One last thing to keep in mind. Our need for hydration fluctuates when we’re sick (if vomiting or having diarrhea) or if sweating a lot or due to the way certain medications can affect the body, so adjust your amount of fluid intake accordingly. And we need to stay hydrated when the weather cools off too.
Heather Cox is a licensed Social Services Worker, Certified Dementia Specialist, Trainer, and RCI REACH Caregiver Coach with a B.S. in Psychology. She's been with AAA-Five County since 2013 and has worked in social services in southwest Utah since 2008.