Older adults who need to stay in a nursing home often require a variety of supports. They may need help getting dressed, and moving around from room to room helps them avoid a fall. They might need someone else to cook and clean for them because they no longer have the energy or agility to handle these household tasks.
Some older adults in nursing homes are at a point where they can no longer meet or even monitor their own basic needs. Nursing home staff needs to be proactive about ensuring that the people in their care receive adequate nutrition and hydration. Fluid intake for older adults is crucial to their health and well-being.
Dehydration not only causes issues on its own, but it can also exacerbate medical conditions and impact someone’s ability to heal from an illness or injury. Chronic or severe dehydration in your loved ones might be a sign of neglectful care or outright abuse at their nursing home.
Staff members should know about dehydration risks for older adults
It is common medical knowledge that older adults have a lower overall amount of fluid in their bodies. That means they are more susceptible to dehydration due to a lack of fluid reserves within the body.
Additionally, the human thirst response gets weaker as people get older. Someone old enough to be in a nursing home may not have much physical sensation to warn them of thirst. They may also be at a point where they can’t cognitively understand the sensation. Staff members should perform physical checks to make sure that a patient seems hydrated and track their fluid intake if they are unable to manage it for themselves.
What are some of the warning signs of dehydration?
Dehydration can sometimes look like an illness. It can also be hard for someone to spot if they only come to visit their loved one once in a while. Some of the warning signs of dehydration include less frequent urination, dark urine, dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, sunken eyes, elevated heart rate, difficulty moving and confusion.
If your loved one doesn’t get adequate fluids when experiencing extreme dehydration, the result could be urinary and kidney problems, seizures, heat exhaustion or even shock.
Pursuing neglect claims against a facility that failed to intervene and protect your loved one from dehydration or to treat them for it can compensate your family and possibly improve the standard of care for others in that facility.