Hydration is vital for brain health
With 80% of our brain made up of water, it just makes sense that we need to keep hydrated. Think about times when you know you were dehydrated – your head ached, you may have been in a “funk”, confused or sluggish, and your mood was just off. Our most basic physiological functions depend on hydration – from our blood pressure and body temperature to our digestive system and heart health.
But it’s actually fairly easy to forget to hydrate . . . not take time to stop for a drink of water . . . not even be aware that we are losing more fluid than we are taking it. Or when we work up a sweat say mowing the lawn, we reward ourselves with a cold beer. Not the best way to replenish lost fluids!
For folks whose brains may be injured by strokes, aneurysms, or dementia, the potential for dehydration is even greater. While our busy schedules or preoccupations with tasks and projects might keep us from making time for a glass of water, it’s imperative that we remember our loved ones who may be less able to hydrate independently. Hydration helps the brain function and transport nutrients, minerals and oxygen to other parts of the body.
We know with dementia, the ability to initiate action is weakened. So it’s important when caring for someone with dementia that we make hydration part of their daily routine. Keep a full class of water within their sight. They may deny us if we ask them if they’d like a drink but often the visual of a glass of water in front of them will prompt them to drink.
Actually, cueing works well with everyone. Reminders to drink water are important for everyone, young and old. It seems rather odd to have to remind someone to drink and quench their thirst. But sometimes our lives get so busy we just forget or don’t make time. And, as the body ages, it’s less able to generate a thirst response when fluids decrease. Rule of thumb: the elderly should not wait until feeling thirst to drink water. In fact, no one should. Keep water in your daily regimen!