Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Help! I'm Drowning!"

Last week, while assisting my mother in the bathroom, I was nearly rendered unconscious by a pernicious odor wafting from her wet diaper. My instant concern was infection. Alzheimer’s Disease and infection do not marry well; infection magnifies it's symptoms. Because the evidence was in the diaper, my first thought was her urinary tract.

My mother’s doctor saw her immediately for blood and urine samples. The quick test showed she was UTI free. However, her urine was dark and cloudy. We’d wait for the blood work results for additional information. When those tests came back, we discovered my mother was slightly dehydrated and her kidney functions were off, most likely to due to it.

The remedy? Get fluids into her quick and keep her on a consistent intake of water.

My mother doesn’t like to drink water. In fact, she doesn’t like to drink much of anything.

The first day, though, she was a fairly well-behaved patient. She understood the significance of dehydration and knew something was amiss as she was experiencing the same swelling bouquet I did with every potty break. Surprisingly, six glasses within 24 hours really cleared things out and the next morning, Mom was odor free. With it went her cooperation to drink.

”You’re drowning me! Who drinks this much water? My belly won’t hold anymore!”

It’s been five days now. Five torturous days.

The first two I used bribery. Mom got to watch one of her favorite TV shows for each glass of water she drank. No empty glass? No Jon and Kate and their 8 children to delight her.

When that wore thin, I started with the tough talk.

“There is no option here, Ma.”

“It won’t go down!”

“Drink it now old woman.”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”

“They want you to drink too.”

That got two more days out of her.

Today, we are reduced to song and dance…literally. Dan said we had to make it fun for her, give her a pleasant impetus. So we came up with a little melody. “A sip you take with every break,” which we sing at every commercial with a clap of our hands and a stomp of our feet.

The levels we have stooped to....

But it is working, for now.


  1. Does it have to be straight water? Can you mix it with, say, sugar-free kool-aid or something to give it taste?

    I'm still in awe of both you and your mother.

    Straight From Hel

  2. Oh, that's a good idea. I hadn't thought of adding something...seems so obvious now! I'll check out some options today. She just doesn't like to drink in general. And at daycare, though I have given her a big jug with her name on it, etc., she isn't making a dent. I am thinking of driving there at lunch everyday to have her drink a full glass. I'm sure she'll love that!

    Thanks awe please! I'm flailing most of the time!

  3. You know my background is mothering a child not an old woman. When the kids get really dehydrated and won't drink (especially when they're little) we used pedialite. I think they have different flavor options so maybe you can find one she likes (sorry no gin flavored). Call the doc first to make sure this is an okay option because as I have been reminded in the past I do not have MD after my name. (Keep singing!)

  4. Laughed out loud with:
    "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph"
    "They want you to drink too"

    Thank god you are maintaining your sense of humor!

  5. I was going to suggest Helen's option. :) My (adult) daughter doesn't like straight water, but she drinks the flavored water. Good luck!

  6. Good for you for being so on top of the possible symptoms of a UTI. It's unbelieveable how a UTI can change the mental status of seniors, even ones who don't have dementia.

    Your humor is great, and you have wonderful care-giver instincts. I guess it helps that you clearly know your mom so well, and love her dearly. That really shines through your writing.

  7. I love your humor, also. Herb tea wiht no caffeine would be a nice alternative, especially now as it's getting cold. I say this as someone who has the tendency toward dehydration and I prefer to drink coffee more than anything else. Not good. But herb tea works, especially peppermint which is wonderful for the system.

  8. I'm with Robin. The "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" made me laugh out loud! Hope your mom is doing better. I can sympathize. I've never been a big drinker until I got dehydrated at the beach a few months ago. I had no idea not drinking water could do so much damage to you! Good luck!

  9. Lisa, Did you hear about the new study?

  10. Again, I say how fortunate your mom is to have you and your husband!!!

  11. Have not heard from you in awhile, hope all is well.

  12. I just discovered your blog! I've been caring for my Mom with increasing dementia that onset during chemotherepy for colon cancer 6+ years ago. I can Really relate to the getting water in dilemma. I had pretty good success with a "take some baby sips" approach, although you have to keep up with it. I'm wondering if some of Mom's weekness might be partially due to lack of water.
    Thanks! I'll tune back in.