You want only the best for your loved ones when you carefully choose a nursing home for an elderly relative’s care. Unfortunately, nursing home residents experience the most elder abuse and neglect, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 states that all nursing homes must provide a standard of care that promotes elderly adults’ quality of life. Nursing facilities should provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practical physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident. This care includes meeting their daily nutritional and dietary needs. The standard of care also prohibits abuse and neglect, which can take many forms.
One form of nursing home neglect involves a failure to regularly assist a resident with eating and drinking, which can quickly cause dehydration in an elderly person.
Elderly adults may not develop thirst regularly and therefore require prompting from a caregiver to drink fluids several times a day. The nursing home staff has the responsibility to monitor a resident’s intake of fluids, as well as help them to hydrate adequately and ensure they do not suffer the effects of dehydration.
Nursing home residents who do not receive adequate hydration can suffer from a number of adverse conditions that can develop rapidly and may even lead to death.
Effects of Dehydration on Elderly Adults
A nursing home resident needs help staying hydrated in order for their body to perform all major functions and generally stay in good health. Dehydration can occur quickly and can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Many older adults do not consume an adequate amount of water and may not notice the early stages of dehydration. A dry mouth or muscle cramps, for example, can seem quite harmless, but they may also indicate dehydration.
Some other signs of dehydration include:
- Trouble walking
- Rapid heart rate
- Dry and thin skin that tents when someone presses it
- Very dark urine and decreased frequency of urination
- Low blood pressure
- Inability to sweat
Dehydration in the elderly may also present itself in kidney failure, seizures, brain swelling, and coma. Severe dehydration causes a great deal of damage to the health of an elderly person and, if left untreated for too long, can ultimately result in death.
Dehydration in U.S. Nursing Homes
Several factors such as staff shortages, a high resident-to-staff ratio, and frequent staff turnover may cause dehydration or malnutrition of nursing home residents. The nurses may feel the need to rush through individualized care for each patient, which can lead to the neglect of residents’ basic needs and worse.
Without adequate nutrition and fluids, a nursing home resident’s health can quickly deteriorate. Caregivers have a responsibility to administer fluids and nutrition regularly, making sure that a resident in their care stays adequately hydrated and nourished. Nursing home staff also need training to identify and quickly address the early signs of dehydration.
Nursing Home Abuse May Lead to Wrongful Death
If a nursing home fails to ensure that your loved one stays hydrated adequately and your family member subsequently dies as a result of medical complications due to this neglect, you may have a right to receive compensation. You also have a right to speak to a nursing home lawyer and file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If a caregiver administered the wrong medication to your loved one, failed to supervise them, or neglected a resident’s basic needs for food and water over a period of time, the effects may prove fatal. A wrongful death can result from a combination of errors, neglect, and failures by nursing home staff or nursing home administration, but taking legal action still requires ample evidence.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm May Help
When a loved one passes away due to dehydration and nursing home neglect, you have a right to take legal action on behalf of your cherished family member.
We may help you hold the responsible parties accountable. Proving negligence and holding the owners or administration of a nursing home liable can involve a complex and challenging process. You may need to obtain medical records, find expert witnesses, and get physicians’ opinions.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm may advise you and help to build your case. Consulting with our firm comes at no risk for you as we do not charge attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 for your free consultation.