Signs and Symptoms of Winter Dehydration in the Elderly and 8 Ways to
E Thomas M.D.
Dehydration can kill. It is crucial for anyone to stay properly
hydrated but it is even more important for seniors who have other
comorbidities as well as dementia like diseases. One of the reasons
that the dehydration threat is higher for seniors is because of
thinner skin that comes with aging. The thinner skin makes a person
more prone to losing fluid. Another issue that makes seniors more open
to fluid loss is their medications, some medicines can cause you to
become easily dehydrated.
array of medical issues can lead to dehydration. Considering that our
bodies are made up of 50% to 65% water, this element is critical to
virtually all our physical functions. Every organ and system of the
body depends on water, so a shortage of fluid can naturally lead to
serious health consequences. Dehydration is one of the most frequent
causes of hospitalization among people over the age of 65. Worse, at
least one study has found that about one-half of those hospitalized
for dehydration died within a year of admission. Older people are at
greatest risk for dehydration because the mechanism that normally
triggers thirst becomes less sensitive with age. In addition, as we
age, a lower percentage of our body weight is water, so dehydration
can occur more rapidly. Those elderly individuals most vulnerable to
dehydration live alone, especially when they are ill. In addition to
fluid lost from fever from flu, or diarrhea from a stomach virus,
sickness usually interferes with normal eating and drinking patterns.
We lose water in many ways.
Breathing results in humidified air leaving the body
Diarrhea is the most common reason a person loses excess water. A
significant amount of water can be lost with each bowel movement.
Worldwide, dehydration from diarrhea accounts for many of the deaths
Vomiting can also be a cause of fluid loss; as well, it makes it
difficult to replace water by drinking it.
body can lose significant amounts of water when it tries to cool
itself by sweating. Whether the body is hot because of the environment
(for example, working in a warm environment), intense exercising in a
hot environment, or because a fever is present due to an infection,
the body loses a significant amount of water in the form of sweat to
cool itself. Depending upon weather conditions, a brisk walk will
generate up to 16 ounces of sweat (a pound of water).
people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels cause sugar to spill
into the urine and water then follows. Significant dehydration can
occur. For this reason, frequent urination and excessive thirst are
among the symptoms of diabetes.
victims become dehydrated because water seeps into the damaged skin.
Other inflammatory diseases of the skin are also associated with fluid
inability to drink adequately is the other potential cause of
dehydration. Whether it is the lack of availability of water or the
lack of strength to drink adequate amounts, this, coupled with routine
or extraordinary water losses, can compound the degree of dehydration.
common side effect of many medicines is increased frequency of
urination. You need to compensate for these additional lost fluids by
drinking more than usual. Medications that often cause this problem
are diuretics, blood pressure drugs, antihistamines and psychiatric
aging process can diminish our natural sense of thirst, but if you
also suffer from incontinence, you may be reluctant to drink fluids
throughout the day. Sipping often in small amounts is essential to
avoid becoming dehydrated.
Page #2 Signs and Symptoms of
Winter Dehydration in the Elderly and 8 Ways to Avoid Them
Thomas is a retired psychiatrist who is in the early stages of Lewy
Body Dementia and Alzheimer's disease. He promotes education for
senior citizens to maintain good health and about the signs and
symptoms of the various dementia-like illnesses. He emphasizes
preventative measures as well as treatment options for
neurodegenerative diseases. He posts on a daily basis to his blog
called "A Diary of a Physician Psychiatrist with Lewy Body Dementia
and Alzheimer's Disease." He enjoys knitting, reading, playing number
and word games as well as doing other brain training exercises. He and
his wife live in Northwestern Pennsylvania. His blog can be read at
Additional Information and
webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate