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Tea with Nan - Part 1

May 29, 2012 by Kenton Delisle

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Living alone and getting older can pose challenges to one’s health. This was recently brought home to me by my colleague, Lara.  She has a close connection with her nan and they talk to each other by phone nightly. Lara described the familiar scenario of an independent person who “doesn’t want to ‘bother’ anyone,” as overall she is “feeling good.”

However, Lara’s nan has a low appetite, so it can be a struggle to eat enough to meet her health needs.  She also tends not to drink enough fluids during the day.  She finds they’re too filling and therefore cause her to eat even less. Lara is understandably concerned about her nan’s hydration.

I encouraged Lara and her nan to call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered dietitian at Dietitian Services, HealthLink BC for some ideas to address these common challenges as well as take into consideration any related medical conditions. This way, her nan could work with a dietitian to develop some day-to-day strategies for food and beverages that would work best for her situation. Easy, convenient, tailored and personal – how  much better does it get than that? Here are some of the ideas to help Lara’s nan get the fluids she needs.

What strategies have you found work to keep you or a loved one hydrated?

Table 1: Nan’s strategies for staying hydrated, and enjoying it

Fluids are important for many reasons - they help you think clearly, keep you “regular” and help maintain your body temperature.  Learn more from on BC Seniors Guide website.

Although hydration is about water, all fluids count. Whether it’s from food (vegetables and fruit, soups, etc) or beverages (including water, milk, tea, coffee, etc) all fluids help with hydration.

What Why How
Water, water everywhere… and always a drop to drink Make it easy to have fluids by keeping water in arms reach. You will be surprised how much water you will drink just having it at your side.    Keep a jug of water chilled in your fridge - Try a slice of lemon or  cucumber to brighten up the  taste. Fill a re-usable water bottle and keep it in your purse or bag when you’re on the go.
How’s your sugary drink sense? Sugary drinks like pop and fruit flavoured beverages might be tasty, but are high in calories and can fill you up without giving you the nutrients you need. Choose water or milk as alternatives to sugary drinks.
More soup for you! Nourishing and filling, soup also helps with fluid intake. We don’t have to drink “8 glasses of water a day”; we can choose a variety of ways to get the fluids we need each day. Comforting and versatile - soup can be frozen* and stored for later use (Dean gives us a bunch of ideas in Kitchen Sink Soup)

*Freeze in meal size containers to make it easier to thaw and use as you need it – maybe something Lara and her nan can do next time they’re together.
 Tea party! All beverages provide fluids for hydration. Tea is a tasty way to get fluids and can even help with getting some calcium and protein if you like milk in your tea. (In Nan’s case, adding milk also helps to get a few more calories.) Choose any kind of tea: black, green, white, rooibos or herbal teas (Speak with a registered dietitian if you have questions regarding herbal teas).

If you prefer more warm milk than tea, try a “London Fog”: Strong black tea with 2 to 1 ratio of heated milk to strong tea.  

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we explore some healthy eating strategies for Nan’s small appetite.

Find more tips and information in the Healthy Eating for Seniors handbook  at

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