Preventing Dehydration in Older Adults
How to Stay Hydrated All Winter Long
In the summer, many of us are never far from our water bottle. As we spend time outdoors in the heat or plan for activities, we know that we need to stay hydrated. However, during the winter, it can be easy to forget that our water intake is just as important—if not more important.
Dehydration is dangerous for anyone of any age, but it can be especially concerning for older adults. When you are dehydrated, you can become tired, and your coordination may be lacking. This can lead to falls and injuries that can sometimes have difficult recoveries. When you stay on top of your water consumption, you are protecting yourself from the dangers of dehydration.
Unfortunately, winter dehydration is very common for a variety of reasons.
- Indoor air can be very dry. As our furnace works overtime to keep our home warm, we are surrounded by dry heat—this is why many of us experience dry, irritated skin during the winter. That same dry air that causes cracked skin can cause dehydration.
- We wear a lot of layers. You bundle up to take a walk, layering a fleece jacket over a sweatshirt and then putting on a heavy parka. The temperature outside is very cold, so you don’t notice how much you are sweating. In the summer, if you came in from a brisk walk and felt sweaty, you’d likely reach right for a bottle of water. In the winter, you may need to remind yourself to replenish your fluids after exercise.
- We are not as active. When you aren’t moving around as much, you aren’t exerting as much energy. However, even when you aren’t exercising, you still need to hydrate.
How much water should you be drinking every day? The National Council on Aging recommends calculating one-third of your body weight. As an approximation, you should be drinking that number of ounces in fluids every day.
We highly recommend speaking to your doctor about your water consumption as it relates to any medications you take on a daily basis. If you are struggling to keep up with your water intake, start by making water more accessible: Keep a water bottle or cup nearby all day