During the warmer months of the year, many of us - especially older individuals and those in poor health - require a little extra water than would usually be necessary. But unfortunately, dehydration increases with age and is a common health issue that can lead to bigger problems if neglected. The University of Chicago Medical Center found that 40 percent of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were people over 65. If you have a loved one who lives in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, it is critical that they are kept hydrated to be healthy no matter what season it might be.
Things you should know about dehydration
- Dehydration can accelerate or bring about emergency hospitalization and increase the risk of hospital stays.
- Dehydration has been associated with increased mortality rates among older adults.
- Dehydration has been associated with many elderly health issues, including confusion, impaired cognition, falling and constipation.
- Dehydration is a frequent cause of hospitalization of older adults and one of the ten most frequent diagnoses responsible for hospitalization in the U.S.
How could a long-term care facility let my loved one become dehydrated?
Many nursing home facilities are understaffed, don’t provide sufficient training to properly monitor the eating and drinking habits of their residents and have high turnover rates. These staffing issues often result in conditions that contribute to neglect. As the loved one of an elderly resident in a nursing home, you should always be aware of the signs of malnutrition and dehydration.
Some signs of nursing home neglect are more obvious than others. Dehydration often occurs due to the side effects of certain medications, dental problems or because assistance is needed to get enough fluids on their own. Dehydration puts residents at risk for numerous medical problems including weakened immune systems, worsened dementia, bedsores, electrolyte imbalances, pneumonia and especially higher rates of urinary tract infections. As families of nursing home patients, it is important to try and monitor whether your loved one is receiving enough fluids, and to remind staff to encourage residents to drink, even if they do not feel thirsty.
Serious symptoms should be treated as life-threatening by nursing homes and victims should receive treatment immediately.
If That Doesn’t Happen Then You Should Take Immediate Action
The physical consequences of dehydration can be swift and severe. It is important to notify your loved one’s doctor, to get emergency medical help and to take legal action against the nursing home to protect your loved one’s recovery if your loved one is hurt. For more information about your loved one’s legal rights after any form of nursing home abuse or neglect, please read our FREE report, Guide for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Victims: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Legal Rights and Get Every Dollar You Deserve, or call us anytime at 800-800-5678.