If you have a loved one in a nursing home, one of the things to keep an eye on is how much they’re drinking during the day. The staff at the nursing home should be monitoring their fluid intake regularly, because dehydration can cause serious complications and even death in severe cases.
Dehydration is more common among the elderly due to the kinds of medications they take, changes in their physical health and their ability to access fluids freely. Older people don’t always feel thirsty in the same ways as younger people, which means that they may not drink until long after they should have.
What are the risks of dehydration?
Dehydration is dangerous and can lead to serious symptoms such as:
- Rapid breathing
- Severe cramping and muscle contractions
- Low blood pressure
- The inability to urinate
When dehydration is not treated, a person is likely to pass out or lose consciousness, have a rapid pulse that is weakened and to struggle with low blood pressure. These symptoms can become life-threatening if the dehydration is not addressed quickly.
What should nursing homes be doing to address the potential for dehydration in the elderly?
Nursing homes should be focusing on providing easy access to water and other beverages. For example, many nursing homes provide patients with large glasses or jugs of water that have the ounces marked on them, so they can see how much the patients are drinking and chart that information. Facilities may also mark down the types of beverages that the patients are drinking and the amount of each drink they’re drinking when they receive it.
If they are not drinking enough, the facilities can attempt to incorporate more fluids into their diets through soups or smoothies, for example. In serious cases, intravenous fluids may need to be given to help hydrate the patients.
Prevention is key with dehydration. Once it occurs, it may take many hours to rehydrate the patient, and their life could be in danger if that hydration doesn’t happen soon enough. If your loved one is hurt because of dehydration, it’s worth looking into what the facility is doing to prevent it and if negligence took place.