When you place a loved one in a nursing home for care, you expect that the staff will take care of them accordingly. Part of the plan of care will always be to make sure your loved one is getting enough to drink during the day. Failing to do so can significantly impact the way an elderly person feels.
Dehydration has many symptoms such as:
- Stomach cramps
- Dry mouth
These symptoms, especially in the elderly, may be pronounced. For instance, an elderly person who is becoming dehydrated may suddenly become very confused and fall down, whereas a younger person may take longer to feel that symptom. Weakness may lead to falls for the elderly, while someone who is more mobile could be able to catch themselves or get up to get themselves something to drink after realizing the cause.
Why shouldn’t dehydration happen in a nursing home?
Dehydration is more common among the elderly for a few reasons including:
- Blood loss
- Prescribed medications
- Excessive sweating
…and other possible causes.
It is a medical concern to make sure these individuals are able to drink enough each day to stay properly hydrated. That’s why many nursing homes provide residents with a large cup, like a Thermos, that has markings for the amount of water provided as well as how much they’ve had to drink. Nurses or their aids should then track the total water intake and refill the drink containers as often as necessary.
Dehydration should not happen in a nursing home if proper attention is given to refilling drink containers and monitoring the amount each resident is drinking. When a resident is drinking less than is desired, the staff can try alternatives, such as giving them coffee or hot chocolate instead of water. The goal, of course, is to improve the intake of any liquid, so long as it will help hydrate the elder.
The problem of dehydration should be caught well before it leads to serious consequences. If other actions taken to get an elderly person to drink more don’t work, then the staff can call for transport to the hospital or, if they are equipped to do so, provide their own intravenous drip for the patient. That way, the patient will not reach a critical level of dehydration without someone stepping in to help.
If your loved one passes away or is hurt due to dehydration, it’s smart to learn more about your legal options. Dehydration should not happen with proper monitoring.