Signs and Symptoms of Winter Dehydration in the Elderly and 8 Ways to
E Thomas M.D.
Page #1 Signs and Symptoms of
Winter Dehydration in the Elderly and 8 Ways to Avoid Them
body's initial signs and symptoms of dehydration are:
Decreased urine output. The urine will become concentrated and more
yellow in color.
cracked lips dry mouth the eyes stop making tears sweating may stop
muscle cramps nausea and vomiting lightheadedness (especially when
standing). weakness will occur as the brain and other body organs
receive less blood.
and organ failure will occur if the dehydration remains untreated.
Irritability & confusion in the elderly should also be heeded
are some easy remedies and ways to prevent dehydration:
As is often the case in medicine, prevention is the important
first step in the treatment of dehydration.
Fluid replacement is the treatment for dehydration. This can
include: water, juice, soups and clear broths, Popsicles, Jell-O, ice
cream, milk, puddings, decaffeinated beverages, Kool-Aid, nutritional
drink supplements (Ensure, Boost, Sustacal, Resource and instant
breakfast drinks), and replacement fluids that may contain
electrolytes (Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
Reduce or eliminate dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea
and soft drinks (unless decaffeinated). But even decaffeinated drinks
can contribute to dehydration. Beware of alcohol intake too. Alcoholic
beverages increase risk of dehydration because the body requires
additional water to metabolize alcohol and it also acts as a diuretic.
If you drink the unhealthy beverages, you need to add even more
water to you daily total. The dehydration caused by those drinks must
be compensated for by increasing the water.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Most have a high water
Drink water all day long in small amounts. It is not good to
suddenly gulp down 64 ounces of water. You can fill a 24-32 ounce
tumbler in the morning, refill it by late morning and refill again for
the afternoon. Consume that by 5 PM. Most people need to start
limiting fluids 1-3 hours before bedtime.
Individuals with vomiting and diarrhea can try to alter their
diet and use medications to control symptoms to minimize water loss.
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used to control fever.
If an individual becomes confused or lethargic; if there is
persistent, uncontrolled fever, vomiting, or diarrhea; or if there are
any other specific concerns, then medical care should be accessed.
Call 911 for any patient with altered mental status - confusion,
lethargy, or coma.
Remember that the lack of a sense of thirst is not a reliable
indicator of the need for water. You need water long before you feel
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