In the children’s (okay, all ages) classic, Alice in Wonderland, the heroine finds a bottle labeled “DRINK ME,” decides it’s probably not poisonous, drinks every drop (it tastes of a blend of cherry tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, toffee, with overtones of hot buttered toast) all mixed up) – – and shrinks to 10″, just the right height for that moment in time.
Found myself thinking about DRINK ME this afternoon, visiting an older friend at her senior residence. I stopped in the open, spacious dining room to ask for a clear plastic glass so I could grab some cold water for her. “Oh, you don’t need that, honey,” a helpful aide informed me, “They leave a glass of water in her room at the start of every shift.”
Indeed, they do. In fact, John & I were still there when they took out the large glass that was there when we arrived & left a fresh one. (We’d finished TOP HAT over lunch & were about 1/3 into AMERICAN IN PARIS.)
If we had not been there, encouraging him to drink is water, I’m pretty sure the old glass would have been almost full when it was tossed, just as I’m pretty sure the current one will just have a few swigs out of it, if any.
The water is served in a lidded Styrofoam glass, with straw. The problem is that nothing about the white glass does anything to entice anyone to want to drink, let alone all. This is no small matter, as we lose our thirst mechanism – the natural desire for liquids that helps keep our bodies hydrated – as we age upward.
Dehydration is particularly nasty for oldsters elders ancients; an older friend of mine almost died twice from dehydration-related pneumonia, a client developed psychotic symptoms due to it & my own mother was SURE that she was being tossed out of our house, all due to dangerously low electrolytes, all thanks to dehydration.
Here’s a suggestion – any facility institution residence that works with oldsters elders ancients should have glasses that say, in big bold letters on both sides, “DRINK ME!” If they leave bottles of water, stick DRINK ME labels on both sides. Go a precious step futher – when aides take a cup or bottle away, have the record if resident finished less than 1/4. less than 1/2, less than 3/4, all.
A little extra work make such a huge difference! Alice’s DRINK ME potion made her the right side for that moment in time. It doesn’t take Lewis Carroll’s imagination to picture the difference having DRINK ME on the glasses & bottles we give our older loved ones, friends & care receivers, that keeping simple records of their intake, can make in their health, welfare, happiness.