Throughout our lives, water aids in the functioning of most of our natural processes. Drinking water is not always a matter of thirst, but it always contributes to the healthy functioning of our bodies. As we age, differences in hydration can have an even bigger impact on our well-being.
Not everyone needs the same amount of water, but nursing home staff should actively providing water for your loved one as much as possible. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nursing homes must abide by medical care plans, which address the need for water at various times throughout the day. If you recently noticed that nursing home staff is not providing water with meals for your loved one, it could be a sign of abuse or neglect to an even further extent.
Going Without Water is Risky for Older Adults
Even when your loved one does not report thirst, it is important for nursing home staff to keep in mind the hydration needs of all nursing home residents. Good hydration plays a key role in a healthy lifestyle, according to Mayo Clinic.
According to the same reports, here are some of the ways water contributes to our body’s normal functions:
- Regulates body temperatures: Drinking water helps our bodies adjust to climate conditions, whether too hot or too cold.
- Provides cell tissue moisture: Hydration is key for prime functioning in the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Heals internal organs: Drinking water can protect our organs and body tissue from unnecessary damage.
- Transfers oxygen: Our cells need water to transfer nutrients like oxygen to other parts of the body
- Maintains joint health: Staying hydrated helps joint health by keeping them lubricated, which is especially important for aging bodies.
- Reduces infection: Water is processed through the kidneys and liver, flushing out waste to keep harmful elements out of our system.
Mayo Clinic recommends 11.5 cups of water per day for the average woman, and 15.5 cups per day for the average man, although individual needs may vary. When nursing home staff is not providing water with meals for your loved one, it could negatively impact any of the processes listed above and more.
Conditions Caused by a Lack of Water
Not drinking water can cause a lot more than just dehydration, and the consequences of it can be especially bad for nursing home residents. Here are some of the conditions and symptoms that not drinking water can have, according to the Nutrition and Healthy Aging:
- Heart Failure
- Kidney Failure
- Liver Failure
- Protein Deficiency
- Overuse of IVs and transfusions
- Excessive perspiration
This is not an exhaustive list of all the conditions a dehydrated person might suffer from. However, if your loved one experiences any of these symptoms in a nursing home, there is a chance that care conditions are severe enough to warrant further investigation. This is where working with a nursing home lawyer can be most helpful for you.
Legal Obligations for Nursing Home Staff
Upon arrival at a nursing home, all residents are entitled to create and collaborate on a care plan with nursing home staff and medical professionals. The goal of transitioning to life in a nursing home is helping your loved one maintain as much dignity and autonomy as possible, while providing for their medical needs, nursing needs, and psychosocial needs.
It always helps your case to be proactive in the care of your loved one, including the planning process. If your loved one is able to, they may also have a part in determining care needs. In this care contract, you can specify hydration needs, but ultimately you can expect that hydration and nutrition needs are considered essential physical care for your loved one.
Considerations for Aging Adults
When nursing home staff receives proper training, they should be aware of the potential frailty of older people in nursing homes. These residents can usually no longer fully provide for themselves. A lawyer can help you investigate the training processes and knowledge of a nursing home staff. They can attempt to pinpoint the source of your loved one’s health problems.
Older people with health conditions like Parkinson’s disease or a history of stroke are at higher risk of dysphagia. Dysphagia refers to a chronic difficulty swallowing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Dysphagia is a normal side effect of aging but does not occur the same way in everyone.
Your loved one’s care plan might include special monitoring for progressive conditions like dementia, which increases the risk of dysphagia and the importance of staying hydrated to keep the body’s processes working.
Investigate Negligent Nursing Home Staff
If your loved one in a nursing home frequently shows signs of dehydration, there may be a larger case of nursing home abuse at hand. You can get help protecting your loved one’s rights and prevent future dehydration-related accidents from a nursing home lawyer.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can discuss your case. Call our offices today for a free consultation by dialing (800) 842-6336.