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Pass (on) the Salt!

Dehydration in older adults (and all ages) is a serious concern!

How serious?

Neuronal damage, early-onset dementia, organ failure, loss of clarity and cognitive functioning, increase in depression, anxiety, behavioral issues...shall I continue?!

In my research and assessments, it is known that Long Term Care Communities show the highest residents with dehydration. Also, as hospitals, nursing homes, and of course, home care. The conclusion is that hydrating adults with Alzheimer's are challenging.

While dehydration is not just in older adults, all of us may have challenges drinking water but that is not the entire story.

Dehydration is minimized by drinking water and eating fruits or vegetables that are high in water concentrate as watermelon or cucumber. Dehydration occurs with high sodium foods and drinks including protein drinks or nutritional drinks that are served in LTCs. Dehydration occurs when eating high-salt foods or drinks and not replenishing water.

"Dehydration is more than just pouring water down and not making other changes in your life."

I wrote a blog last year titled "40 is the new 60" and dehydration in our middle age will definitely put us on the trajectory of aging, Alzheimer's, and poor health.

So, what can we do? Other than drinking more water?

Pass on the salt! That seems easy enough but let's take a deeper look, shall we?!

  1. Yes, pass on the salt! Use other herbs and spices that flavor the foods and create texture and richness. A few ideas: add garlic, nutmeg, cayenne, nutritional yeast, lemon, or herbs such as oregano, rosemary, or basil. Find your own combinations.

  2. Eat fewer sodium products. according to the CDC, someone with Alzheimer's should have less than 1500 milligrams of sodium a day. This can add up quickly. A nutritional drink may have 400 milligrams each. Then, add meals that have high sodium, puddings, snacks, and more nutritional drinks and this is a recipe for illness.

  3. Eat foods that are water-rich as cucumber, watermelon, watercress, and celery, and add water-rich foods to your daily diet.

  4. Limit alcohol consumption. Continuous, daily alcohol can reduce homeostasis in your liver functioning. Liver impairment, Cirrhosis, can lead to sodium depletion.

"Dehydration can cause sepsis, behavioral issues in Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, illness, organ failure, let alone for those younger, can cause these same issues"

Your daily diet and intake are impacting your behavior, emotions, cognitive processes, and energy, and are a serious contributor to wrinkles and aging.

As a caregiver, how can you help hydrate loved ones or your patients?

  1. Use the above ideas by adding more fruits and vegetables high in water content, and review sodium in meals, drinks, and snacks.

  2. Add natural ingredients to water for taste as lemon, cucumber, berries, or lime. Add a straw or sparkling water. Place it in a fun glass!

  3. Speak to the physician regarding sodium intake. Before a diuretic is given or pharmaceutical treatment, look at natural options. Look at diet!

Behavioral issues are significant with Alzheimer's and impede daily care and are challenges for caregivers. Consider a comprehensive approach to care with understanding nutrition, water intake, diet, and even prescriptions, contributing to dehydration and emotional imbalances.

"Polypharmacy, multiple prescriptions are adding to dehydration and illness!"

Health care begins always from the inside out. Begin looking at your food intake, water consumption, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and snacks. If you have behavioral or emotional rollercoaster days, can't sleep, or lacking energy, or have sexual drive, consider your sodium intake. A few changes can change your life. A few changes can save your life.


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