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Dehydration and nursing home neglect: Know the signs

When someone has memory issues or major physical problems, even getting enough fluids to prevent dehydration without assistance can be difficult.

That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of dehydration in seniors, particularly among those in nursing homes, where patient care often takes a backseat to staffing problems and company profits.

Why are the elderly so prone to dehydration?

Inadequate fluid intake is only part of the reason that seniors tend to suffer from dehydration so easily. Other factors include:

  • Medications and physical conditions that cause increased sweating
  • Vomiting or diarrhea, which can be associated with a number of medical problems
  • The use of diuretics, which increase urination
  • Difficulty swallowing fluids without thickening agents

Nursing homes are aware of the dehydration risks for seniors, but they don’t always put in the effort necessary to mitigate those risks.

How can you spot the signs of dehydration?

Early signs of dehydration may be nothing more than a senior’s dry mouth and complaints of a headache. Unfortunately, that can make a senior even less inclined to look for water and other fluids, since they may find it painful to swallow or feel nauseated.

Other signs of dehydration include:

  • Fatigue and trouble moving
  • Sunken eyes
  • Decreased urination or dark urine
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeats
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure

The problems caused by dehydration can escalate quickly, so there’s no time for delays if you suspect an issue.

Nursing homes have long been notoriously understaffed, and patient neglect can be a problem even in so-called “good” nursing homes. If your loved one was injured due to inadequate nursing care, the only way to prevent such problems from continuing is to hold the nursing home responsible for its failures.