The heat and humidity of summer in Northern Virginia is stifling.
Now imagine that you do not have the ability to communicate that you would like a cold glass of water. Or the physical ability to get one for yourself.
You start dehydrating. Perhaps you develop a painful urinary tract infection (UTI), but, again, do not have the ability to tell someone about your discomfort.
What happens next? Since you can’t find the words to express your problem, you do so through behavioral changes. Perhaps this means withdrawing, lashing out or crying. Your family thinks that you are experiencing a cognitive decline, when, in reality, you simply have a curable infection.
I cannot express enough how important it is for adults who have dementia to stay hydrated.
“I cannot express enough how important it is for adults who have dementia to stay hydrated,” said Jennifer Robinson, program manager of Fairfax County’s Adult Day Health Care program.
“Lack of water can be downright life-threatening. Dehydration leads to UTIs and a need to go on antibiotics. Worse, an undetected UTI can mean a hospital stay. And UTIs can exacerbate the progression of dementia,” she said.
Jennifer and her nursing team suggest closely monitoring water consumption and talking with your health care provider about alarming behavioral changes, as they could be indicators of medical issues.
Hydration is built into the daily programming at all four of Fairfax County’s Adult Day Health Care centers with routine water breaks. Staff ensure hydration among all participants. The nursing team conducts health monitoring of each person, and these regular screenings can flag medical issues before they become problematic — like UTIs.
“Our staff get to know each and every participant in our program. We flag and discuss behavioral changes and medical issues with caregivers, who can follow-up with a physician if needed. This helps head-off health problems before they lead to hospitalizations,” said Jennifer.
Here are the Adult Day Health Care staff’s tips for keeping your loved ones hydrated this summer:
- Regular water breaks ensuring your loved one consumes 6-8 glasses of water daily.
- Staying indoors on a hot day, in well-ventilated and/or air conditioned environments.
- Taking it easy on poor air quality days, when the risk of getting out of breath increases.
Does your loved one need health monitoring during the day? Adult Day Health Care may be a good option for you. Contact us to come in for lunch and a tour.