Dehydration in Nursing Homes as a Sign of Abuse
While the general school of thought is that everyone should drink eight cups of water a day to stay properly hydrated, a report by the Institute of Medicine in 2008 stated that men should drink 15 cups of water and women should drink 11 cups. With such a large discrepancy, how do you know which guideline to follow? The truth is the amount of required fluid intake varies from person to person and day to day. For our elderly loved ones who live in nursing homes, this means careful supervision to ensure each individual is receiving enough liquid each day.
Unfortunately, it appears that most residents do not get the supervision and liquids they need. According to a report published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in 1999, nearly 100 percent nursing home residents were not taking in enough liquid (1,500 mL or more) on a daily basis. Moreover, this study reported that a main cause of dehydration in residents was inadequate staffing and poor supervision, which are signs of nursing home neglect and abuse.
Signs of Dehydration
The body needs fluids to function normally. Any loss of fluid for a sustained period can lead to some of the following:
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Little to no appetite
- Dark urine
- Cracked lips
- Fatigue or lethargy
If the nursing home staff does not catch these signs and symptoms in time, your loved one could begin to suffer serious medical conditions, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and respiration, confusion, seizures and unconsciousness. If left untreated, severe dehydration can lead to death.
- What causes dehydration in nursing home residents?
- What are the effects of dehydration on a nursing home resident?
- What should the nursing home be doing to prevent dehydration?
- Dehydration, what assessments should be made by a nursing home to prevent a resident’s risk?
Risk Factors for Dehydration in Senior Citizens
There are general factors that can make your loved one more prone to dehydration, including whether she or he:
- Is bedridden (Also more likely to suffer from bed sores)
- Is unable to feed herself/himself
- Suffers from chronic health conditions
- Is acutely ill
- Has moderate to severe dysphagia
- Suffers from a urinary tract infection
- Is incontinent
- Takes diuretic medication
- Does not speak English
If your loved one falls into one or more of these categories, do everything you can to help your loved one avoid dehydration. Encourage fluid intake during visits. Request that the staff provide preferred beverages between meals to increase the likelihood of intake. Also request that all fluids are recorded in your loved one’s chart. Review the chart whenever you visit.
Finally, always ask your loved one if she or he has access to liquids in between mealtimes. What your loved one tells you can ultimately mean the difference between catching dehydration before it starts and severe illness or death.
Contact Our Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law Firm
Dehydration can absolutely be a sign of nursing home neglect. At The Rooth Law Firm, we provide free consultations to all individuals who believe their loved ones may be suffering at the hands of inadequate or improperly trained nursing home staff. To learn more about our services and to receive your free initial consultation, contact our personal injury law firm today.