Placing a loved one in a nursing home is an incredibly tough decision. While it brings comfort knowing they receive proper care, nursing home neglect and abuse, particularly when it comes to dehydration, are regrettably common. Insufficient fluid intake can lead to severe complications and, in extreme cases, prove fatal.

Some nursing homes lack proper policies to ensure residents’ hydration needs are met. This is unacceptable and jeopardizes lives. Strict guidelines for monitoring hydration levels and providing adequate fluids are imperative in nursing homes. If you suspect your loved one’s nursing home isn’t adhering to these protocols, it is crucial to speak out and advocate for their rights.


Is elderly dehydration really that dangerous?


The elderly face a critical concern with dehydration, which extends beyond feeling thirsty. Dehydration can rapidly and severely impact the body, leading to various complications. For instance, it can cause kidney failure, which may become irreversible if not detected early. Furthermore, dehydration reduces blood pressure and diminishes blood flow to vital organs like the kidneys, brain, and heart, potentially resulting in organ failure.

Coma is another concerning complication that can be caused by reduced blood flow to the brain due to dehydration. This can have long-lasting effects on overall health. Inadequate blood flow and oxygen delivery to vital organs can also lead to shock, causing organ dysfunction. Lastly, dehydration commonly results in electrolyte abnormalities, which can lead to muscle weakness and irregular heart rhythms.


What are the signs of elderly dehydration?


Mild dehydration often indicates that an elderly resident is not consuming enough fluids initially. Symptoms may include excessive thirst, dizziness, dry mouth, and infrequent urination. Nursing staff must ensure residents have access to clean drinking water and provide fluids with electrolytes, if necessary. Monitoring the resident’s fluid intake and frequency of urination is important for ensuring proper hydration.

If dehydration worsens, it may cause more severe symptoms such as mental confusion, disorientation, rapid breathing, a drop in blood pressure, and the inability to sweat. In such cases, seek immediate medical attention and consider administering intravenous fluids. Hospitalization for observation and further treatment may be necessary.


The Alarming Statistics of Dehydration in the Elderly


The statistics of deaths related to dehydration in the elderly are alarming; according to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five adults over 65 had been hospitalized with a diagnosis of dehydration, resulting in 38% of deaths of older adults. Dehydration can also lead to other illnesses and conditions, such as urinary tract infections, bed sores, and pneumonia. Therefore, it is crucial that care professionals and family members take dehydration seriously, monitor the seniors under their care regularly, and take preventative measures.


How can elder dehydration happen at a nursing home?


In nursing homes, elders become dehydrated primarily due to inadequate staffing. When the staff-to-patient ratio is low, monitoring the daily fluid intake of each patient becomes challenging for the nursing staff. Moreover, nursing homes often suffer from understaffing or high turnover rates, making it difficult to provide proper care to residents. As a result, inexperienced caregivers neglect the residents’ well-being.

Dehydration in nursing homes is also contributed to by a communication barrier faced by certain residents. Those with cognitive issues or language barriers struggle to express their needs or preferences for fluids, making it harder for the nursing staff to understand and fulfill them. Additionally, some residents experience dysphagia, a condition that hinders swallowing. Despite specialized feeding tools being available, these residents may resist drinking fluids, ultimately leading to dehydration.

Insufficient supervision of staff also plays a role in elder dehydration in nursing homes. There is often a lack of proper monitoring of the nursing staff’s work, allowing room for neglect and reducing accountability. Moreover, many caregivers receive insufficient training in providing quality care. They may not fully understand the importance of fluid intake monitoring, leading to negligence towards residents in need of proper hydration.


Can the nursing home be liable when an elderly resident becomes dehydrated?


Nursing homes must fulfill a duty of care towards each resident within their facility, including providing proper nutrition and hydration. Sufficiently trained staff should be available to recognize signs of dehydration and take prompt action to prevent it. Consequently, nursing homes may be held liable for any harm caused if a resident experiences dehydration.

Thoroughly training nursing home staff on the signs and symptoms of dehydration is crucial. They need to correctly identify and respond to changes in a resident’s behavior, remaining vigilant for signs such as dry skin, mouth, and tongue, dark urine, and lethargy. Immediate action should be taken to prevent dehydration.

When a nursing home resident becomes dehydrated, it is their duty to ensure prompt access to medical attention. Residents should have access to fluids to rehydrate, with documented treatment and careful monitoring during the process.

Nursing home staff should acknowledge that elderly residents are more prone to dehydration as they age and may require additional fluids for proper hydration. Hence, nursing homes hold the responsibility to assess each resident’s health and take necessary precautions to prevent dehydration. Consulting the primary care physician and, if necessary, providing extra fluids is essential.


What can I do if my loved one suffers harm from dehydration at a nursing home?


If your loved one has suffered dehydration in a nursing home, it is crucial to take immediate action and hold the responsible parties accountable. Seeking compensation and justice is important in such cases. Contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer from Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault at 419-843-6663 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation and gain a better understanding of your options. They will assess your eligibility, guide you through the legal process, and assist you in pursuing the appropriate course of action.