Dehydration: An understated red flag of neglect
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Dehydration: An understated red flag of neglect

On Behalf of | Aug 6, 2021 | Nursing Home Abuse

If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home and you’ve noticed that they’re regularly needing support for dehydration, you may think that it’s just a normal process of getting older. The reality is that dehydration could be a sign of neglect or abuse in a nursing home.

In most nursing homes, there are standards of care that detail the quantity of fluids each patient should receive. Many nursing homes do their best to make it easy to hit those numbers by providing access to water at all times (and being sure that cups and decanters have measurements to keep track of intake). They may also provide drinks at meals and create meals with a higher water content so that residents are less likely to develop dehydration.

Dehydration is more common in older adults

It’s the truth that dehydration is more common in the elderly, primarily because of the medications they take and the body’s resistance to feeling thirsty. As people age, they may find it harder to swallow or to drink as much as they should each day, too.

Knowing this, nursing home staff members should be focused on getting residents plenty of fluids throughout the day. Doing so can help improve mobility, mental health and physical health.

Dehydration can lead to damaging symptoms and severe consequences

Unfortunately, dehydration can lead to serious symptoms that have to be treated quickly. Urinary tract infections may become more common in some residents. Others may be dizzy and more prone to falls. In severe cases of dehydration, cramps, fevers, exhaustion and death can occur.

What should nursing homes do to improve patient hydration?

Tracking the fluid intake of each patient is important. If they usually drink 64 ounces of fluids and have only had 16 ounces in the last day, then action needs to be taken to correct that. By not keeping track of the patients’ hydration levels, they could be putting them in a dangerous position where they’re more likely to suffer from illnesses or to pass away.

If your loved one is left dehydrated without support and develops an infection or suffers other serious side effects, it may be worth looking into starting a nursing home neglect case.