In the first part of my collaborative series with attorney David Terry, I will address the relation of dehydration with the development of bed sores (or pressure sores, pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcers– whatever you prefer to call them).
Simply put: dehydration occurs when a person does not receive enough liquids though eating, drinking or through mechanical intervention such as intravenous fluids or a feeding tube to maintain their optimal physical functioning. When the body is deprived to fluid intake, imbalances in the bodies chemistry occur and there is a reduction of blood volume.
Alterations in blood chemistry and reduction in blood volume interfere with essential circulatory issues. As the volume of blood in the body gets reduced, the life sustaining properties of blood to skin and tissue gets reduced.
Without the life sustaining components a properly operating circulatory system provides– tissues, particularly those under pressure from a person’s body weight begin to die.
Particularly in the physically disabled or bed bound, pressure tends to build on areas of the body literally supporting the persons body weight: the buttocks , sacrum or heels. When the reduced physical capability couples with the increase in pressure on areas of the body, bed sores are more likely to occur.
How to ensure your loved one is getting enough fluid?
Only a medical professional can realistically determine what each patient’s fluid intake requires after analyzing the person’s body weigh and fluid output. However, a commonly agreed upon starting point for optimal hydration is 1,500 to 2,000 ml (six to eight glasses) of fluid per day– minimum.
Therefore, as a caregiver or just a concerned friend or family member, it is important to recognize that hydration needs and realize the hydration plays a critical role in general well-being and reducing bed sores amongst patients in a nursing home or hospital setting. Consequently, be on the lookout for symptoms of potential dehydration including:
- Sunken eyes
- Cracked lips
- Ashen skin
- Rapid decline in cognitive function
- Dark colored urine
- Overall physical weakness
When you visit check to:
- Ensure fluids are within reach of the patient
- Make sure the patient is capable of consuming the fluids– straw, handled cup, ect.
- Address hydration needs with an attending physician or nurses– particularly if the patient is incapacitated or in a coma
- Always keep a glass of water or juice on the night stand when you leave