I badly need your help!! Father refusing to drink water

Posted by aliali @aliali, Feb 25, 2019

My dad, 78, is suffering from several diseases (diabetes; gangrene due to diabetes; the loss of vision due to diabetes; hypertension). Nowadays, his kidneys begin to suffer also. He has repeatedly rejected drinking water and said the cause is that the water is “impure”, “salty” and “not tasteless as it must be”. I have again and again asked him to stay hydrated, and mentioned to him how his health is declining due to such behaviors, but it barely worked!! I could force him to obey my orders, but you totally know how doing so is immoral ! Lying is also prohibited to me; I am seeking a “gentle”, “honest” and “satisfactory” manner to help him take care of himself and maintain a better health. Please help me; the water given to my dad is totally pure. I do not know what to do. What do you suggest?

@aliali Have you taken your Dad to. Dr. yet? He will become dehydrated if he doesn't get liquids

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I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with this, that must be very difficult to handle and stressful with your farher’s health issues.
Regarding the hydration issue itself- will he drink other hydrating drinks, or eat ice cubes or popsicles?
It sounds like it could be helpful to have medical assistance- has he seen the doctor recently? Have you looked into whether he qualifies for in-home care of any sort?

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Hi @aliali – I'm sorry to hear about your struggles with your dad. I know its not easy to get an adult person to do anything they don't want to do. I'm wondering if he is doing okay otherwise with eating a reasonable diet? If so, I would suggest including plenty of fruits and veggies,adding soup to every meal, keeping popsicles and frozen ices in the freezer, and stocking up on fruit and vegetable juice. I'm also wondering if you might find more support over in the Caregivers Group. If you have a chance, check out this link: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/caregivers/

Do you live with your dad – or close by? Does he have a primary caregiver or is he on his own? This is a difficult situation and my heart is going out to you as you try to make sure he is safe and well-hydrated.

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@aliali I can feel your concern for your father, it must be very difficult. Does he realize that if he doesn’t drink more he could end up on having to get fluids intravenously?
Have you tried flavored water, either by adding some lemon or lime juice to it, or purchasing some non-carbonated ones like Hint? Even juice would help. When my son and daughter were young they liked to drink apple juice a lot. I didn’t want them drinking that much of it so I always did half juice, half water. Maybe adding flavor to the water it would be more appealing to him.
JK

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Hi @aliali, you'll notice that I moved your message to the Caregivers group as Debbra suggested. You have received great advice from fellow members. As others have suggested, water is not the only source of hydration. Is your father refusing all liquids? Is he eating? It may be that his taste buds have changed making the water taste different to him and leading him to refuse to drink it. I agree with @tiymay that it sounds like you could use the support of a professional care worker or medical professional to talk with your dad. I look forward to you coming back to the conversation to answer the questions so we can understand your situation better and continue to support you through this trying time.

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@lioness

@aliali Have you taken your Dad to. Dr. yet? He will become dehydrated if he doesn't get liquids

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He is already admitted to the hospital. He rejected also taking medication and syringe and thus still suffering from pain; how to deal with stubborn people??

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@tiymay

I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with this, that must be very difficult to handle and stressful with your farher’s health issues.
Regarding the hydration issue itself- will he drink other hydrating drinks, or eat ice cubes or popsicles?
It sounds like it could be helpful to have medical assistance- has he seen the doctor recently? Have you looked into whether he qualifies for in-home care of any sort?

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I think the obstacle I have to deal with is not just hydration; it is “How to adhere to the physician regulations??”. He rejected drinking water, having medication and syringe. Thus, his CT scan has been delayed two days; he is still suffering from pain due his gangrenous toes!!

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@debbraw

Hi @aliali – I'm sorry to hear about your struggles with your dad. I know its not easy to get an adult person to do anything they don't want to do. I'm wondering if he is doing okay otherwise with eating a reasonable diet? If so, I would suggest including plenty of fruits and veggies,adding soup to every meal, keeping popsicles and frozen ices in the freezer, and stocking up on fruit and vegetable juice. I'm also wondering if you might find more support over in the Caregivers Group. If you have a chance, check out this link: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/caregivers/

Do you live with your dad – or close by? Does he have a primary caregiver or is he on his own? This is a difficult situation and my heart is going out to you as you try to make sure he is safe and well-hydrated.

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Regarding his diet, he would reject having his meals on time again and again and he is diabetic; he neither exercises nor has insulin medication. I am lliving with my dad but still cannot do anything if he does not adhere to the physicians regulations. I have again and again stated the adverse effects of such behaviors; when I say yo him “Your foot is likely to be amputated”, he becomes extremely concerned about that and aware that this matter is serious, and would promise me to follow a healthy life. but he would very rarely do so !!

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@aliali

Regarding his diet, he would reject having his meals on time again and again and he is diabetic; he neither exercises nor has insulin medication. I am lliving with my dad but still cannot do anything if he does not adhere to the physicians regulations. I have again and again stated the adverse effects of such behaviors; when I say yo him “Your foot is likely to be amputated”, he becomes extremely concerned about that and aware that this matter is serious, and would promise me to follow a healthy life. but he would very rarely do so !!

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Hi @aliali I am Scott and I am sorry to read of your dad's health challenges. I was my wife's primary caregiver for many years and understand how challenging and upsetting it can be when our loved one/patient doesn't follow directions. Especially true when it is for their own good.

In my wife's case, more often than not, she would reject my suggestions, but when the doctor ordered it, she finally listened. At one point her doctor told her if she didn't follow his directions he would not be her doctor any longer.

Another thing with my wife was over the course of her illness her tastebuds frequently changed and what was once a pleasurable food became intollerable. Things she enjoyed her whole life became enemies on her plate so I kept trying differet foods and finally ended fixing very bland, plain foods for her. We ended up eating exactly the same meals for years!

As far as hydration, I ran the gamut of water, tea, coffee, crystal lite, herbal teas, ice tea, soda water, and more!

Another thing that I remember was tough for me as a caregiver was realizing (and remembering) I could not control my wife's actions and reactions. I could suggest, coax, etc., but if she really resisted I had to let her follow herself and when things became uncomfortable enough she would usually come around to what had been suggested for her. I had to carefully pick my fights and invest my energy in only the most important.

Each patient and each caregiver is different, but I offer our experiences here for your consideration.

Strength, courage, and peace!

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@aliali I am sorry to hear that you are having trouble keeping your father hydrated. Your easiest fix might be to purchase gallons of spring water. If this is not an option, you might try sharing weak coffee or herbal tea with your father, or just warm water. Perhaps he does not like cold water, I do not. Having someone to share a cup with makes everything better. Offering him foods high in fluid will also help. You can try watermelon, celery, broth, tomato juice. If he will drink bottled water, I suggest you purchase a few bottles of spring water and refill the bottles from the tap or with boiled water. Just don't let him catch you refilling them. One person I knew was having problems getting her water down, so she purchased 3 liter bottles and marked them into thirds. She had to drink one portion every 90 minutes hours during the day (7, 8:30, 10, 11:30, 1, 2:30, 4, 5:30 and 7) to finish all in one day. Good luck and God Bless.

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My husband was not a big water drinker and I used watermelon, fruit juices, etc, to encourage him to get enough fluids.

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My mother-in-law had End Stage Renal Disease and was on dialysis for several years. Her health deteriorated to the point that she had to be placed in a nursing home. She had decided that she did not want to live to the year 2000 so shortly after Thanksgiving 1999 she began refusing to go to dialysis. The doctor and staff were able to talk her out of that but just before Christmas she refused dialysis and all medications including pain meds. She had osteoporosis as well.
When the nursing home staff notified us of her refusal of all treatments, I paid her a visit and had a little heart to heart. I asked her if this was what she really wanted and was she fully aware that she would suffer a very painful death. She said she was tired of all of it and believed that if she refused her medications she had to refuse her pain meds as well. I asked if she had thought about her children and grandchildren and how it would affect them to watch her die a slow painful death and especially at Christmas time. She said she had not thought about that and she agreed to wait a few days until after Christmas to discontinue her medications and dialysis. I understood her desire to end her pain but wanted her to have options available. I left the nursing home and called Hospice for assistance. I asked Hospice to visit her and talk with her about options.
Hospice went to the nursing home and immediately began working with her and the staff to proceed with her end of life plans without talking with her first. That didn't sit well with me but that's another story. My mother-in-law was relieved to learn that she didn't have to give up her pain medications just because she refused all other treatments. As a result, she was able to spend her last days being comfortable instead of in agony. She past peacefully on January 9, 2000.
The moral of the story is that as caregivers we can get so wrapped up in doing what the doctors want without listening to what our loved one wants. At the same time our "patients" may not be looking at all the consequences of refusing to follow doctors' orders. If at all possible we need to have open and honest conversations with our loved ones about what they want. They may be afraid to discuss their end of life plans because they don't want to hut us.
I was the caregiver for my father, mother-in-law and mother. It is very hard to become the "parent" of a parent.

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I appreciate your post and thank you for being so honest. I was greatly encouraged on my path with my sister.

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@cindyt63

My mother-in-law had End Stage Renal Disease and was on dialysis for several years. Her health deteriorated to the point that she had to be placed in a nursing home. She had decided that she did not want to live to the year 2000 so shortly after Thanksgiving 1999 she began refusing to go to dialysis. The doctor and staff were able to talk her out of that but just before Christmas she refused dialysis and all medications including pain meds. She had osteoporosis as well.
When the nursing home staff notified us of her refusal of all treatments, I paid her a visit and had a little heart to heart. I asked her if this was what she really wanted and was she fully aware that she would suffer a very painful death. She said she was tired of all of it and believed that if she refused her medications she had to refuse her pain meds as well. I asked if she had thought about her children and grandchildren and how it would affect them to watch her die a slow painful death and especially at Christmas time. She said she had not thought about that and she agreed to wait a few days until after Christmas to discontinue her medications and dialysis. I understood her desire to end her pain but wanted her to have options available. I left the nursing home and called Hospice for assistance. I asked Hospice to visit her and talk with her about options.
Hospice went to the nursing home and immediately began working with her and the staff to proceed with her end of life plans without talking with her first. That didn't sit well with me but that's another story. My mother-in-law was relieved to learn that she didn't have to give up her pain medications just because she refused all other treatments. As a result, she was able to spend her last days being comfortable instead of in agony. She past peacefully on January 9, 2000.
The moral of the story is that as caregivers we can get so wrapped up in doing what the doctors want without listening to what our loved one wants. At the same time our "patients" may not be looking at all the consequences of refusing to follow doctors' orders. If at all possible we need to have open and honest conversations with our loved ones about what they want. They may be afraid to discuss their end of life plans because they don't want to hut us.
I was the caregiver for my father, mother-in-law and mother. It is very hard to become the "parent" of a parent.

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Liked by cindyt63

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@IndianaScott

Hi @aliali I am Scott and I am sorry to read of your dad's health challenges. I was my wife's primary caregiver for many years and understand how challenging and upsetting it can be when our loved one/patient doesn't follow directions. Especially true when it is for their own good.

In my wife's case, more often than not, she would reject my suggestions, but when the doctor ordered it, she finally listened. At one point her doctor told her if she didn't follow his directions he would not be her doctor any longer.

Another thing with my wife was over the course of her illness her tastebuds frequently changed and what was once a pleasurable food became intollerable. Things she enjoyed her whole life became enemies on her plate so I kept trying differet foods and finally ended fixing very bland, plain foods for her. We ended up eating exactly the same meals for years!

As far as hydration, I ran the gamut of water, tea, coffee, crystal lite, herbal teas, ice tea, soda water, and more!

Another thing that I remember was tough for me as a caregiver was realizing (and remembering) I could not control my wife's actions and reactions. I could suggest, coax, etc., but if she really resisted I had to let her follow herself and when things became uncomfortable enough she would usually come around to what had been suggested for her. I had to carefully pick my fights and invest my energy in only the most important.

Each patient and each caregiver is different, but I offer our experiences here for your consideration.

Strength, courage, and peace!

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My first thought on your heartfelt request is "how do we deal with stubborn people — people who are stubborn to their own detriment?" Boy I am suffering with that right now and although I'm very patient, I find that very very hard now. So, let me restate what Scott said, and what I always said to my kids (isn't this just another kid?). Pick your battles and invest your energy in only the most important!!

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