Although water is plentiful in the U.S., there are many that still suffer from dehydration every day while under full-time medical care. In nursing homes across the country, there are elderly that are suffering from dehydration, even though water is readily available, just out of their reach. Due to neglect from low staffing or inattentive nursing staff, many of these patients are becoming ill and even risking death due to this unforgivable lack of one of the most essential requirements for life- water.
Importance Of Hydration In The Elderly
As people get older, their bodies retain less water, making it easier for them to become dehydrated. A elderly person that weighs 150 pounds will retain approximately seven liters less of water than a younger person of the same weight. Since water is essential for all body functions, especially the brain which is composed of 75% with water, dehydration can quickly cause ill-effects and even death.
In addition to retaining less water, many elderly in nursing homes are on medications that can cause dehydration. Coupled with decreased thirst and physical impairments that make it difficult to obtain water on their own, nursing home patients rely on their caregivers to ensure they are getting the water their bodies need to remain healthy.
Effects Of Dehydration On The Body
Dehydration can cause many health complications, especially in those already in poor health. Signs of dehydration include constipation, confusion, lack of skin elasticity, decrease in blood pressure, increase in pulse and weight loss. If dehydration is not remedied quickly it can lead to more serious health concerns including:
- Cardiac disease
- Renal failure
- Urinary infections
- Increased risk of pressure sores
- Increase in mortality in stroke victims
Prevention Of Dehydration In Nursing Homes
Dehydration in too common in nursing homes, especially when it is easily prevented. In a study of long-term care patients, 50% of those with febrile (fever) episodes and 27% of patients that were admitted for hospitalization were dehydrated. The Illinois Council on Long Term Care recommends the following to prevent dehydration in nursing home patients:
- Constant monitoring for signs of dehydration
- Identify high-risk patients to nursing staff
- Maintain protocols for re-hydration
- Administer fluids at least three times a day between meals
- Make water easily accessible
- Give full glass of water with medications
- Offer beverages that patients prefer, often
Dehydration Of Nursing Home Patients Due To Neglect By Staff
Too often the reason for dehydration in nursing home patients is due to neglect. Most commonly it is not necessarily abuse but instead the lack of staffing available that is the cause of this neglect. Nursing home staff can be overwhelmed with the amount of patients under their supervision and can miss the signs that a patient is in need of one of their most basic requirements: water. When this type of neglect happens in a medical facility like a nursing home and causes an injury to a patient, the owners and administration can be held liable for their actions.
Don’t Accept Dehydration As Part Of ‘Normal’ Nursing Home Care
Providing quality nursing home care is not just the humane thing to do, but it’s the law. When skilled nursing facilities fail to keep patients sufficiently hydrated and complications ensue, a nursing home injury law firm can help. Our nursing home neglect attorneys have prosecuted cases involving dehydration and other forms of nursing home negligence on behalf of individuals and families. Allow us to evaluate your case for you without any cost or obligation on your end. 888-424-5757