"My mother in law, Martha, simply refused to drink water!"
Sheila complained to me.
"It tastes bad. I'm not thirsty," Martha cried.
Sheila knew it was probably the cause of a lot of Martha's health issues, even her dementia. Oh I am not saying that dementia is caused by not drinking enough water. But being dehydrated has been proven to affect cognition. It also affects the muscles and joints and every system in the body. The truth is water is vital not only for our survival but to allow us to thrive. One of the common ways dehydration affects the elderly is with chronic urinary tract infections.
If You Have Ever Dealt With A UTI In An Elderly Person I Don't have To Tell You It Is A Nightmare!
Martha was prone to urinary tract infections or UTI's as they are commonly called. She was not the only one in her large assisted living facility that suffered these constant infections. The infection reacts very differently in the elderly than in a younger person. For instance Martha never complained of a burning sensation when she urinated. This is a common complaint in a younger person who has a UTI. She didn't feel the urge to go to the bathroom frequently either, another common symptom.
A UTI Can Affect Mood And Behavior
The first time Martha had a urinary tract infection we had no idea what was going on. Normally a very sweet elderly lady Martha became agitated and angry. My husband and I were shocked the words that came out of her mouth. This was not the lady we knew. We found out later this was a common symptom of a UTI in the elderly.
There Were Water Stations Everywhere
The large assisted living facility she lived in was beautiful. They assured me they encouraged the residents to drink more water. And yes there were water stations throughout the community to encourage the residents to drink.
You Can Bring A Horse to Water But You Can't Make Him Drink
This was so true. It didn't matter how many stations they had if mom didn't want to drink she would simply push her walker right past them. I began to realize that this big beautiful facility was lacking in an important quality.
That Quality Is Care
The larger places simply did not have enough caregivers to take each person by the hand and find a way to get them to drink more fluids. And that is exactly what Martha needed. She needed more personalized care.
We Discovered Small Assisted Living Care Homes
Unlike the big facilities that had one caregiver caring for 8 or more residents, these homes often had one caregiver for every 4 residents. . This gave the caregivers the extra time to come up with ways to get the residents to drink more. we decided it was time to more Martha for better quality care. And we discovered some homes were even Alzheimer's Certified. This meant they were trained to be able to help people like Martha live the best life she could.
Parties and Mocktails
Sometimes you have to think outside the box. One of the gems I found out about these smaller assisted living facilities was they way they got to know their residents. Because the home may only hold 8 or 10 residents the caregivers were able to spend time getting to know all about each person living in the home. Martha, they discovered was very social. She loved parties and the cocktail hour was a time of fun.
Because of all of Martha's medications cocktails were a no-no. But Mocktails were not! A cocktail without the alcohol. And the recipes were endless. The staff quickly discovered this was a great way to get fluids into their residents. And they all had fun at the same time. They enjoyed Mocktail Mojitos, Mango Mules, Martini's and more!
On other days they would have a smoothie party. Fruits are another good way to sneak those fluids in. The great news is Martha didn't even think about getting fluids, she was just having fun with her new friends! The UTI 's didn't go away completely but they happened so much less frequently. And the staff was on top of it. They knew Martha's habits and noticed changes. When she did get an infection it was caught early and nipped in the bud. That's what I call quality care!
Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.
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