Dehydration in the elderly is a real health risk. As we age, we become less resilient in general. This also includes being more susceptible to dehydration and malnourishment. Many elderly people do not drink enough due to the lack of thirst. Without feeling thirsty, many elderly people simply forget to drink water. They need to be constantly reminded and encouraged to stay hydrated.
Water is necessary for our body and organs to function properly, and being dehydrated can have some dramatic effects, particularly for seniors who can end up hospitalized once the dehydration is severe. Early dehydration symptoms can include:
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
More serious symptoms of dehydration can be a rapid heart rate, confusion, and fainting. Fortunately, dehydration is completely preventable and can easily be prevented by nursing home staff.
Speaking to a nursing home lawyer can help you understand the legal obligations of a nursing home and how you could hold them responsible if they neglected your loved one.
Preventing Dehydration in Seniors
Preventing dehydration in a nursing home is as simple as encouraging a resident to drink several times a day and assisting them if they cannot drink unaided. There should always be enough staff at hand to ensure seniors are receiving assistance not only at meal times but throughout the day.
Sometimes, an elderly person might be resistant to drinking a large quantity of water every day. There are some steps you can take to encourage them and increase your loved one’s hydration when you are spending time with them.
If your loved one refuses water, you could change it up and offer them an occasional glass of juice or flavored water to entice them to drink more. While water is certainly best, any hydration is good hydration. Try to offer foods that are high in water, for example, salads, vegetables, and fruit such as grapes or melon. Hydrating foods can help with the daily intake of fluids required for optimum hydration.
Encourage your loved one to drink throughout the day, if you can. Make sure they always have their glass filled and encourage them to take frequent sips rather than drinking a full glass all at once, which seniors may find hard to stomach.
Also, consult with your loved one’s medical provider to ensure that they receive the right amount of hydration for their individual needs. There are some conditions, such as heart failure, where too much hydration could damage your loved one’s health.
Do consider that some medical conditions and prescription drugs require the elderly person to drink significantly more than generally suggested. When suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, or upper respiratory tract infections, for example, hydration needs may be greater.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a study where almost all of a small group of residents studied in a nursing home suffered from dehydration and inadequate fluid intake. The study concluded that dehydration in nursing homes is avoidable with adequate staffing. Staff should also systematically offer residents their preferred liquids.
If your loved one suffered from dehydration and needed medical treatment or hospitalization, you may think about filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover medical expenses and get compensated for your losses. As part of a lawsuit, you will have to prove that the nursing home breached its duty of care to your relative.
A nursing home lawyer can help you prove your case against a facility by collecting evidence, for example, records confirming that the nursing home was experiencing understaffing at the time your loved one suffered from dehydration. A nursing home will almost certainly try to defend itself by arguing that they were not at fault and that another factor, for example an illness, caused dehydration. In this case, you might have to produce medical records and expert opinions by physicians in order to prove negligence.
Pursuing the Support of a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
A nursing home lawyer can help you collect the evidence and witnesses needed to prove your case and advise you on the type of compensation you might receive. Typically, in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, you can receive compensation for medical bills and transportation expenses as well as for physical pain and mental anguish. It can be helpful to find out about your options, especially if you suspect that there could be additional future medical expenses connected to the dehydration injuries.
Dehydration in nursing homes is easily preventable and it is important to hold negligent nursing homes to account and stop neglect of the elderly. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 if you need some legal advice regarding nursing home neglect.