During the winter months, people often don’t consider that dehydration is a true health threat. With colder weather, we often have a very dry, raw environment with low humidity outdoors and heat running nonstop indoors, which is also drying. With flu season in full force, unsettled stomachs and the inability to keep anything down can rapidly cause dehydration issues. Improper hydration can throw mineral or medication levels out of balance, which is dangerous. Often the signs of dehydration are thought to be a worsening of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, since they mimic many of the same symptoms.
Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization for those 65 and older. Dehydration will cause more serious problems if not treated promptly, SOME SEVERE ENOUGH TO CAUSE DEATH. This is serious business!
Common signs & symptoms
- Persistent fatigue, lethargy and/or muscle weakness
- Nausea or poor intake of fluids
- Forgetfulness, confusion
- Deep rapid breathing, increased heart rate
- Loss of normal skin elasticity
- Decreased or no urine output
- Sunken eyes & dark circles
Ways to avoid dehydration
- Offer & encourage water and/or juice at scheduled times throughout the day, 6-10 times depending on “successful” amounts
- Offer bottled water instead of a cup of water; sometimes it can make a difference. These are easy to add powdered flavoring to, also.
- Encourage lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Serve salad, juice, fruit or soup-before meals
- Include foods in meal planning that are made with water or milk – puddings, jello, soups
- Offer healthy snacks between meals-carrot/celery sticks, melon balls, etc
- Remember other favorite or special treats that can be offered to help with hydration
- Popsicles, frozen fruit bars, sherbet or ice cream
- Root beer floats, sherbet w/lemon lime carbonated beverages
- Banana shakes made w/fresh berries
- Applesauce, yogurt or frozen yogurt
The effects of dehydration can be a very serious matter. Use these tips for keeping hydrated to keep yourself and your loved one as healthy as possible during this winter season and throughout the year.
By Pam Kovacs Johnson