Dehydration: Winter’s Worry

Winter Dehydration

New Jersey winters pose unique threats to the health of older people; one particular threat is dehydration. Dehydration happens when our body’s water loss hasn’t been replenished during the day. Our bodies are approximately 65% water, so in order to maintain good health, we need to stay hydrated. In the summer our bodies perspire more, physically reminding us to drink water frequently. In the winter, however, we’re bundled up and don’t notice the fluid evaporating from our body. If you’re a family elder caregiver, you may know that in older people, the sense of thirst diminishes as they age, so they tend to drink less. If they live alone, they may not take the time to eat or drink enough during a given day to replenish their body fluids. Other factors can contribute to winter dehydration, as well.

Possible Causes of Winter Dehydration:

  • Fever from having the flu
  • Diarrhea from a stomach virus
  • Vomiting from stomach illness
  • Increased urination from medication
  • Diabetes
  • Decreased thirst due to age

Symptoms of Dehydration:

  • Decreased urine output—look for a dark yellow color
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Thirst

To Prevent Dehydration:

  • Drink plenty of clear fluids; water is best (avoid caffeine and alcohol)
  • Eat fruit and vegetables high in water content
  • Other foods/drinks: soup, broth, jello, ice cream, milk, pudding, nutritional drinks (Ensure, Boost), juice, Popsicles, Gatorade, etc.