I'm exasperated and have run out of ideas to get my mom to drink water. Any advice?

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I've tried putting a flavoring in her water. I enlisted her for ideas as to what we can do here to get her to drink water, thinking that having her part of the process would help. I tried giving her one glass of water after breakfast and one after lunch. I told her that dehydration was an agonizing way to die. (That she responded to once.) She was in great pain from having a difficult bowel movement and promised to start drinking water.
Still.......she refuses to drink water. Could this be her way of saying she wants to die?
I don't know what to do anymore....

Answers 1 to 10 of 17
Mom is in a nh. They make sure that she has a small pitcher of ice water all the time. She sips. All day long. But never a whole glass. Just little sips all day. Apparently your sense of thirst is diminished as you age, so she needs gentle reminders. Is she incontinent? I think sometimes reluctance to drink more has to do with the inability to get to the toilet on time.
Would she like something else better than water? Milk? Lemonade? Orange juice? Ginger-ale? Beer? V-8 juice? Tomato juice? How about hydrating foods, like soup, watermelon, grapes, tomatoes, celery?

My husband didn't like drinking water but he liked V-8 with Tabasco in it, and grapefruit juice, and milkshakes, and tea, and beer or wine once a day, and milk on his cereal ... he pretty much had something that he liked available to drink all day.

My mother has never been a water drinker. Her nursing home offers several beverage choices at each meal, and snack cart comes around offering small cans of pop or juice twice a day. They also serve melon and soup and canned and fresh fruit and lots of opportunity for the residents to keep hydrated.

Except in hot weather, I drink about 12 ounces of water a day -- the amount it takes to swallow my pills. But I am seldom without a glass or cup of something to drink, and I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I don't think I am in any danger of dehydration. Your mother may be at greater risk, but if she resists water, work harder on other ways to get the liquid in.
Hi Cadams,
Does your Mother drink anything and it's just water that she has problems with? Or she doesn't drink at all and you have to watch her get any fluids at all?
That's pretty typical of many seniors, and the dehydration causes fatigue, dizziness, difficulty with bowel movements, etc. My mother, all her life, never got thirsty and for the past 20 years has been dehydrated. All she takes is small sips of coffee, juice - maybe one or two ounces at most. She is so dehydrated the doctor can't even draw blood. Once or twice she has been hospitalized and had to get IV fluids. And she abuses laxatives which makes it worse. We have tried everything, including buying those cute little small bottles of water which worked somewhat, but we find them all over the apartment, with a few sips taken out. The small bottles for some reason are not as "threatening" to her as a large glass. Short of making her drink, we haven't found a solution except stubbornly sitting right in front of her until she does drink more than two sips. Your mom sounds a little more reasonable than mine. Since many seniors are reverting to childhood habits and actions, how about finding some small, cute, unique cups, glasses of different colors and shapes to offer her drinks. Maybe it will pique her interest a little.
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My mom just went to an incontinence clinic. They stressed to her to drink more non-caffeinated, non-carbonated beverages to help her bladder health. Even though her primary care physician stressed she needed more liquids to help her memory and mental health, and she was interested in doing that, she didn't want to have to go to the bathroom more often. She probably wasn't even drinking 20 ounces of liquid per day.

After the incontinence clinic explained how she is working against her health by not drinking, it helped get the point home. So, now, two different doctors and the incontinence clinic have insisted on her adding liquids and it's sinking in. Repetition from professionals has helped outweigh her fear or additional bathroom visits.

I have a two-liter water bottle. I have measured and marked it at every 10 ounces so she can see how much she really drinks, every day. Every day for awhile, at the end of the day, I showed her how little she'd consumed and part of her problem was that she thought she was drinking more than she really was. That also helped it hit home with her. Her memory is bad, too, so reminding her every day for a few weeks was required.

Now, almost all beverages come out of that bottle, but when she drinks milk or something else not made from water in that bottle, we pour out a glass worth from her water bottle. That helps her see how little she was drinking. Every night when she goes to bed, I fill it back to the 65 ounce mark and she sometimes gets up during the night and drinks some from it.

She does also sip, which the clinic stressed is the right way to do it, not gulping.

Also, I find if I make her a cup of tea that it's more interesting to her than a glass of water, but I make the simplest herbal teas (plain rooibos, plain mint) or decaffeinated teas. Sometimes, I'll make her decaffeinated coffee from her jug. A little variety helps.

In the summer, I make a jug of sweetened herbal tea and she'll have about a glass of that per day, once again, we throw out a glass of water from her jug.

I know it seems like we waste a lot of water, but it's not as much as it sounds like. Most days we don't throw any of it away. And it's really the easiest most visual way for her to understand and keep track of her consumption.
Sorry it has taken this long to get back to you all. It DOES get a bit wild here a times. I have been thinking about your input. I started giving my mom the smaller glasses of water (thank you AmyGrace) and went back to giving my mom cranberry juice. Mom seems more open to this, so it's a start, though her liquid intake is still very small and a concern. I will look over some of the other suggestions. I like the idea of trying cute little water glasses. I can see how that could be more appealing and fun. So thank you all. I appreciate you all more than words can say. cadams
When mom got near death from dehydration (from over-medicating with diuretics), she stopped drinking . . . started sleeping, like, 17 hours on the last day. THAT day, the home care nurse was due. I held all of her diuretics. We then cut them in half. The next day, she was sipping little tiny sips of liquids...and eating, like, maybe half a hard-boiled egg.

Anyhow, the nurse explained to me that when the body gets dehydrated, it learns to live on what it's got. She said that if one forced two glasses of water on someone like that, it might actually kill them because their tissues wouldn't be prepared to assimilate all of it quickly enough.

I keep a screw-on-top plastic tumbler by mom always -- filled with ice water. (She recuperated, by the way, after we held her meds.) In my little mind, if she stops drinking? She's probably on life's edge. She certainly was that time.

I don't KNOW this, but I'd imagine if someone's kidneys were in bad shape and unable to handle much water, a person's thirst would disappear...
I couldn't get my mother to drink water. She said the tap water tasted bad. So I bought the small bottles of bottled water. Now she drinks so much I can barely keep it in stock. Sometimes I find half-filled bottles scattered around. I just recombine them and put it back in the refrigerator. And, of course, I recycle the bottles. (I've also been known to refill them with tap water and refrigerate it. She never knew the difference. :)

Maggie....you have got to be kidding. Scared me to death, but I'm glad you shared. My mom does have kidney issues which we (the dr. and I ) monitor. This caregiving business gets so scary with the not knowing and the responsibility. God be with us all. Thanks again for sharing. cadams
I have the same problem with my dad. I found that the tiny water bottles work the best. For some reason in his mind he's not drinking very much with those tiny bottles so that really works. Also I cut up watermelon and put it in throwaway bowls in the refrigerator so he can grab one and sit down and eat it. He also likes the flavor drops in the water so we have various kinds of those. You just have to be tricky and outsmart them good luck!

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