Senior Q&A: Older folks need to hydrate

seniors (1)

Q: My father doesn’t drink much liquid, and with summer approaching, I worry he may become dehydrated. He takes medication for high blood pressure, and that will further put him at risk of dehydration. Do you have any ideas on how to get him to drink more liquids with the summer coming?


A: It’s not easy to change habits, and yes, with summer coming it is important to drink more liquids. Drinking more liquids directly affects an increase in the frequency of going to the bathroom. Also, your father, like other seniors, may not feel the sensation of a dry mouth or feel thirsty. Consider purchasing popsicles during the summer as they are always fun to eat – a special seasonal treat. Jello is another idea, either with or without fruit. Fruit all by itself is another idea; oranges, apples, grapes, watermelon and cantaloupe. Soup is another idea but watch the sodium level. Keep a container with a closed lid and straw next to your father’s favorite chair. This way he does not have to walk to the kitchen to get something to drink.


Q: My father has multiple physicians. For each appointment, I bring his medication list for the physician to review. I am worried that each doctor continues to add medications and I worry about side effects of all the medications my father takes. Is there a consultant or someone who can look at the medications to make sure they are the right ones for my father? I worry about all the side effects and if one medication should not be taken with another medication.


A: In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy can review the medications to see if they all work well together, check that the appropriate dosage is given, discuss with you side effects and answer all your questions. Many  pharmacies can also provide a medications consultation. When a new medication is prescribed, the pharmacist should be looking at the medication and the entire list of medications. The pharmacist is a specialist in medications, side effects and contraindications.


Q: My mother and father are getting ready to retire within the next year. Is there any advice I should give them?


A: This is a good time to begin or for some people review or complete their legal documents such as a health care proxy, power of attorney and living will with an elder law attorney. This is also a good time to establish some short-term goals and long-term goals. If you are able, discuss with your parents different scenarios, such as if they ever need rehabilitation where would they want to go. Under what situations would they want to move out of their house?


Make sure you have a copy of their insurance information, Social Security numbers, financial accounts, the name of their elder law attorney, geriatric care manager, financial planner, next-door neighbors or friend who can get to the house if you cannot get there quickly, the name of their preferred hospital, primary care physician, specialists, etc. Keep a list of the most current medications on their refrigerator, and change the list as medications change. Keep your name on the refrigerator as well, with your telephone number. EMTs are often trained to go to the refrigerator to look for a list of medications and other emergency contacts. Add your name to your parents’ wallets with your telephone number.


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source: HOPKINTON by Debbie Gitner and Linda Sullivan


Categories: NOW, you know

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