Patients who don't want to drink

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by john-w, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. john-w

    john-w Registered User

    Feb 23, 2007
    My elderly mum is increasingly reluctant to take in fluids, and this has become critical.

    This began with her taking increasingly small sips of drinks, and often not wanting to accept a drink at all.

    Is this common?

    Is it caused by the dementia, or by dehydration itself, or something else?

    Does it have a psychological origin? For example, I know my mum hates wetting her incontinence pad, so could she have worked out that not drinking is a way to avoid passing water (or is that too subtle?); or maybe she is sick of me continually pestering her to take a drink, all day; or something maybe something else.

    Or does it have a physical cause? A nurse who was visiting persuaded my mum to have a good sip of squash from a beaker, but then the whole lot was spat out. If the body is dehydrated why on earth should it reject fluids?

    Does anyone have any comments or suggestions?
  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Dear john-w

    I don't have any answers for you (well who does) but I do have a couple of suggestions. Firstly when you say beaker do you mean like one of those plastic sippy cups they give people in hospital? Because my mother hates the taste of fluid from those, in fact from any plastic cup. Also, have you tried making the fluid very cold? Mummy won't drink liquids at room temperature either. To that end have you tried frozen lollipops and the like? I suppose the success of that would depend on how much eye/hand coordination your mother retains.

    I don't think it's unheard of for AD loved ones to make the connection between fluid in and fluid out. I also think you may be correct about the "pestering" connection: my mother still has fairly good language skills and she has told me at times in no uncertain terms that "going on about it", whatever it may be (normally eating or drinking) puts her off the idea entirely.

  3. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    Dad definately made the connection between not drinking and not needing to go to the loo so often in the early days of him being ill. He was very pleased with himself when he told me about this, and thrilled that he'd found the solution to having to run off to the toilet several times a day.

    Could it be a problem with swallowing? Liquids, especially at mouth temperature, can be very difficult to swallow because they don't necessarily trigger a swallow reflex. Might be worth seeing if you can get a speech and language therapist assessment. [yes, I know that sounds odd - but that's one of the things they can be really helpful with]
  4. welshflower

    welshflower Registered User

    Jan 8, 2007
    patients who dont want to drink


    Sorry to hear about your situation, however just a thought, what about buying a sringe from the chemist. This happened to my mum, the nursing home wanted to admit her to hospital. Sorry but all they would do is administer fluids through a drip, these means putting a needle into my mother arm ( she would have just pulled it out ).........
    I bought a sringe from the chemist ( something that they advise for childrens medication ). I just sat with mum drawing up water with the sringe and placing it in my mum mouth........ very slowly to start, but it worked.........
    Good luck xxx
  5. fearful fiona

    fearful fiona Registered User

    Apr 19, 2007
    Thanks john-w for starting this thread as it is something that I have trouble with, with both my Mum and Dad. They like the odd glass of alcohol but that has the opposite effect of course. I now make them drink a glass of water first and of course am told I'm nagging!!!
  6. john-w

    john-w Registered User

    Feb 23, 2007
    Thank you very much indeed for that suggestion.

    I got a 5ml syringe from the local chemist first thing this morning, and was able to give my mum her first fluid for 3 days.

    It takes forever to get a decent quantity of liquid down her at 5ml a shot, but it's saved her life, in the very short term at least.
  7. DeborahBlythe

    DeborahBlythe Registered User

    Dec 1, 2006
    I'm pretty certain my mum equates eating and drinking with incontinence and that is one of the reasons why she has lost weight. Worried she won't get to the toilet, or will 'have an accident'. Old fears seem sometimes to be ingrained more firmly than other memories. Do you know what your mum's 'favourite' drink was? My mother rarely refuses tea, even in a heatwave. She seems to be unflinchingly programmed to agree to tea. However, it has to be 'Just so'. Not too hot, cold, sweet, bland! She once rejected tea from a flask I had made by throwing it out of the car window when I was driving her up a motorway.
    Syringes are also useful for supplements like Calogen. My mum is due to have an assessment by a Speech and Language Therapist to check whether she has a reasonable swallowing reflex or whether she is aspirating food/drink. Regards
  8. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    Have nurses offered nutri-drinks? My mother used to drink them because she liked the nurses.
  9. gill@anchorage5

    gill@anchorage5 Registered User

    Apr 29, 2007
    Anything is worth a try...

    We have had a similar problem with Dad for some time - he seems so reluctant to take fluids and "nagging" him to drink just doesn't work & only makes him more determined not to drink! At home I was monitoring his fluids and on a good day managed to get him to drink about 1 1/2 litres (but it was really hard work to achieve this!) He has a catheter - but he forgets that he has this and I guess he is still worried about "having an accident".

    As always we have to make the most of the "windows" of co-operation and get as much fluid into him during these good periods. If he drinks a cup of tea I take advantage of the fact that he won't remember that he'd just had one & say "I'm going to make a cup of tea are you going to have one with me?" Often this way I manage to at least get another 1/2 cup of tea into him.

    Dad is currently in a specialised mental health assessment unit and since he's been there I have been taking in small cartons of drink with a straw every day (the type used in kids lunchboxes) each of these is labelled with his name (just printed out his name on sticky labels from my PC.) For some reason - at the moment he just loves to see his name in print and the name label seems to encourage him to drink "his" carton of juices as it is "specially for him". Each time he reads the label - it seems like the first time he has seen it and it makes him chuckle and he then takes a few healthy gulps through the straw.

    Leaving labelled cartons unopened by his bed doesn't help - he would not be inclined or have the dexterity to put the straw in, so I always start him off with a carton & if he drinks that while I'm there - I leave another one opened & ready. While it may seem obvious this also has the advantage that the staff know that this is his drink - otherwise a half empty carton would be thrown away as it could belong to any of the patients.

    It works at the moment - of course there is no telling whether it will work long-term - it could be just a "phase". But it is working for us right now & may be worth a try if your Mum is still able to recognise her name in print.

    Good Luck!

    Kind Regards

  10. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hi Gill,

    Your ideas are super. Thank you for sharing them. I`m sure they`ll help many people.

    Love xx
  11. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Gill, what a lovely idea! You are making your dad feel special, while at the same time getting him to drink. :)

    Thank you for sharing that, I'll remember it.

  12. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    #12 Margarita, Jun 28, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2007
    My mother just like that , she does not want to drink a lot because she says that see keeps going to the toilet .

    What I did not understand is the complication that can happen with an elderly person not drinking , I never thought to much into with mum not drinking a lot

    Till one day my mother had a fall in the street banging her head

    she went to hospital all was Ok so they sent her home , but when home she keep being sick and it was yellow very water like , So NHS direct put me in contact with our doctor who told me to ring for an ambulance, as he thought she may have a blood clot in her brain .

    CT scan show mum did not have one all was clear .

    They then found out from a urine test that mum was Very dehydrated and told me that when a person became dehydrated they can vomit like mum was doing , more confused very unsteady in they walking .

    Sickness tablet clear it all up with mum drinking more , all I have to say to mum now is drink up or your going to get Sick like you was before & she does drink more .

    Now she really into fresh orange juice. I also get her those I liter bottle water , fill them up with water so I know how much mum drink ever day .
  13. Cliff

    Cliff Registered User

    Jun 29, 2007
    North Wales
    Have been trying to read as many of the contributions as posible as D, my wife, will not drink. She gets very cross (out of character) when pressed to drink. She has never liked tea or coffee or iced drinks so am reliant on cool water drinks.

    In the hope it may help someone, this seems a partial solution in my case:

    Have made a space on the kitchen worktop where D normally leaves her full water glass. Have also provided bottles of Robinson fruit & barley of different flavours, Ribena etc and gradually added to the collection over a period of days. Also put a small glass, medium glass and tumbler and a big straw, curly straw in front of the bottles. And then just waited without comment to see what would happen.

    Now D can choose herself without pressure, she selects what suits her at the time and her drinking has definitely improved. When I now say howabout a drink, she usually chooses something.

    I have my fingers crossed (and a mop to clean up the spillages) - Cliff
  14. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire
    Ingeneous solutions

    Gosh, aren't you all clever, thinking of these ideas? My mum currently has a Urinary infection (she gets a lot of them), and I'm trying to encourage her to drink more fluids, she thinks a half pint of water is enough for a week. She also suffers constipation, for which one of the cures is - more fluid!

    I'll put some of your ideas into practice, thanks everyone. Isn't it often these little practical things that make a difference?

    Love to all

  15. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Really good ideas Cliff. If your wife is anything like my husband, she won`t go looking in cupboards. Things we want to be used need to be on show.
  16. Cliff

    Cliff Registered User

    Jun 29, 2007
    North Wales
    Hello Sylvia, no quite the opposite, Dee will spend hours looking in a floor level cupboard rearranging everything very delicately and this is where things get hidden. But she's happy doing it.

    I know it's nothing to do with this thread, but don't know where to post it. So here goes:

    Strange the way the mind works in AD. Dee is very concerned that her mother
    (who died at 96 ten years ago) is having a baby and Dee cannot help her.

    A lighter moment of the day for me but have kept a straight face and sympathised - Cliff
  17. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    The key thing, I believe, is to put their mind at rest if there is a genuine worry.

    If all it takes is "well, the doctors and nurses said that they were managing very well and they will call you at once if she needs help" - then go with it.
  18. Cliff

    Cliff Registered User

    Jun 29, 2007
    North Wales
    Absolutely right Brucie - couldn't agree more - Cliff

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