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Dehydration is often an early sign of nursing home neglect

If your grandmother lives in a nursing home, you expect her to receive top-quality care. Unfortunately, though, that does not always happen. In fact, the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that more than 90% of nursing home residents have experienced neglect or witnessed it in others.

Neglect is a type of elder abuse. While any substandard care likely qualifies as nursing home neglect, dehydration is often an early warning sign. Therefore, to ensure your grandmother receives the care she deserves, you must understand dehydration and why it occurs in nursing homes.

An increased risk

Dehydration happens when a person does not take in enough fluids. Fluids, of course, are essential for all bodily functions, such as digestion and waste elimination. Senior citizens are more susceptible to dehydration than children or younger adults for the following reasons:

  • Medical conditions and medications
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Thirst reduction
  • Mobility limitations

Common dehydration symptoms

Because senior citizens are prone to dehydration, nursing home staff must closely monitor fluid intake. They must also watch for symptoms of dehydration to develop. Here are some common ones:

  • A decrease in skin elasticity
  • A decrease in urine production
  • Mouth dryness
  • Dizziness, confusion or nausea
  • Fatigue

Dehydration shares many symptoms with other medical conditions, such as urinary tract infections or even dementia. Accordingly, nursing home professionals may not realize your loved one is suffering from dehydration until it has become severe or life-threatening.

Causes of dehydration in nursing homes

While the cause of dehydration is usually not taking in enough fluids, nursing homes may contribute to a resident’s dehydration for a couple reasons. First, because nursing homes are often busy and understaffed places, staff may have insufficient time to monitor fluid intake. Similarly, care providers may not offer appealing fluids for residents to drink.

Either way, if the nursing home does not stop the root causes of dehydration, your grandmother’s life may be in danger due to simple but preventable neglect.

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Carlton F. Bennett Mr. Bennett is recognized as an expert in traumatic brain damage litigation, nursing home malpractice, and wrongful death cases. He has obtained numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for traumatic brain injury survivors, and other cases involving serious injuries.
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