There are a number of different tasks people take for granted until they lose the ability to perform those particular tasks. One of them is the ability to get up and get a drink of water when you are feeling thirsty. Many nursing home patients may be bedridden or have reduced mobility. For these patients, it is important that nursing home staff provide them with enough fluid throughout the day. A failure to do so could lead to dehydration.Problems with Dehydration
When people talk about nursing home abuse, the primary concern is physical harm or physical abuse. However, both dehydration and malnutrition are dangerous factors in nursing homes across the country, especially now that countless nursing homes are drastically reducing staff costs in order to remain profitable. The estimate is that more than 10,000 elderly residents died because of malnutrition and dehydration between 1999 and 2002.What is Dehydration?
The broad definition of dehydration is an excessive loss of body fluid. According to the definition of the American Medical Association (AMA), it means that the patient loses more than 3% of their total body weight very quickly. This may occur because of a drastic decrease of fluids intake, medication side effects, or illnesses. For many of the elderly patients in a nursing home, their physiological changes play a major role in dehydration as well. For example, it may be more difficult for elderly patients to concentrate urine from the kidneys.Neglect May be the Primary Factor
However, in many nursing homes the primary factor for dehydration is neglect. This can occur if staff members refuse to or forget to provide enough fluids to patients. Shocking statistics from a 1999 study showed that amongst 40 different residents who were surveyed, only a single resident had proper hydration levels at that time.
Many patients are unable to maintain their own hydration level because they are physically unable to do so. This makes it even more important that staff members remain diligent, especially because dehydration is a problem that can occur very quickly.
Once dehydration does set in, it can lead to many different medical problems, including a higher rate of developing infections, pneumonia, electrolyte imbalances, ulcers, bedsores, worsened dementia, and a weakened immune system.Dehydration Signs to be Aware of
One of the most important things in dealing with dehydration is getting medical assistance as quickly as possible. That is why it is vital to identify the signs as early as you can. Signs to be aware of include:
- Dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness
- Fatigue or weakness
- Dry mouth
- Dark colored urine
- Skin flushing (red in the face)
- Dry skin
- Loss of appetite
Other serious symptoms include seizures, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. It is important to get someone exhibiting these symptoms to emergency care as quickly as possible, because these symptoms need to be treated as life threatening.Make a Change Before Its too Late
Without adequate hydration levels, many elderly patients are unable to ward off infection and live healthy lives. This can lead to countless different medical issues and may even prove fatal. If you feel that neglect is playing an important role in someone close to you not receiving adequate hydration, it is important to speak up. Never assume that your specific case is an isolated incident.Did Your Loved One Suffer from Dehydration in a Nursing Home Setting?
Like many aspects of nursing home care, by the time a patient has become dehydrated it is likely due to the fact that numerous employees at the nursing home were ignoring the patient’s needs. As attorneys who represent families in nursing home lawsuits related to dehydration and other medical complications, Nursing Home Law Center LLC knows how to prosecute these cases to achieve maximum impact for your family. Do not accept dehydration as an inevitable part of nursing home care. Call us today. (800) 926-7565.Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources