By Nicole Lipinski, RN, MS, ADC-MC, CDP
You may think dehydration is only something you need to think about in the good ole summer. However, it is very possible to suffer from dehydration in the winter. The body’s sweat mechanism is not activated as much in the winter as it is on a hot summer day. Therefore, we are not triggered to grab the bottle of water like we are in the summer. Dehydration occurs in the winter for very simple reasons. People don’t associate dehydration with the winter so they do not worry about grabbing that bottle of water. People also do not sweat as much so they do not have that natural trigger which tells them to replenish the fluids they are losing. Lack of fluids can be dangerous to anyone however, it is important to our vulnerable populations such as the elderly. The winter or cold months are no exception to pushing fluids. The elderly often increase the layers they wear during the winter and they experience increased respiratory fluid loss. To avoid dehydration, it is best to remind the elderly to avoid drinks that contain caffeine and sugars. Drinks such as coffee and soda have a diuretic effect, in other words, they will cause you to urinate more often. This can contribute to fluid loss and may not be the best choice for someone who is at risk for dehydration. Sugary drinks prevent the body from absorbing the fluid it needs. The best ways to stay hydrated are to drink water, sports drinks or low sugar juices. Stocking elderly with supplies to help avoid dehydration is the best defense. A variety of options is a great idea. Ideas of things to have the elderly try are clear broths, ice pops, sports drinks, jello, or Italian ice. It is a good rule of thumb to drink 8—8oz glasses per day to ensure you are adequately hydrated. Staying hydrated is important to your overall health. Fluids prevent constipation, flush
bacteria from your bladder and maintain all systems of your body. So keep hydrated even in the winter! Your body is counting on you. Follow our healthy eating, healthy aging series at the Jewish Home. For more information, please contact Nicole Lipinski, Director of Healthy Aging, at ext. 1113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.