Dehydration in a Nursing Home
Dehydration is the most common result of neglect of elderly nursing home residents. Malnutrition is next. Symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition may not be readily obvious to the casual visitor to the elderly.
Eating and drinking become more difficult for some people as they age. Conditions that may interfere with proper eating and drinking include:
- Being bedridden and unable to get food or something to drink by themselves
- Staff shortages and the lack of a caregiver to feed them
- Inability to handle knives, forks or spoons due to tremors or paralysis
- Loss of appetite due to depression or illness
- Inability to swallow
- Not being offered enough food or water and the inability to request it
Some symptoms that might indicate dehydration are feeling dizzy or faint, having dry skin, being unusually red in the face, having dark urine, exhibiting fatigue or unusual weakness, having chills, or being excessively thirsty.
In Addition to the Previous Reasons Causing Dehydration, Malnutrition May Also Occur Due To:
- Dementia causing loss of awareness of the need to eat and lack of appetite
- Wrong combination of nutrients
- Problems with teeth, gums and dentures that interfere with eating
- Shortage of care givers to deliver food before it turns cold
Some signs that your loved one is malnourished are weight loss, swollen and bleeding gums, tooth decay, fragile bones, weakness, loss of muscle, declining mental abilities, compromised organ function and a bloated abdomen.
Complications Caused by Dehydration and Malnutrition
Lack of proper nutrition and fluids can lead to many problems, including death. Among these problems are bed sores, difficulty fighting infection, imbalances of vitamins and minerals and life-threatening events compromising the proper function of tissues and organs.
Visiting your elderly relative in a nursing home frequently is important, not only for the relative’s sake but for your own. You may spend more cherished time with this person compared to how much time you used to spend with him or her and come to learn more about them as individuals. As you learn more about them and their history, you also learn more about yourself.
When you visit and if you notice some of these signs and symptoms of dehydration or malnutrition, you should quickly contact a lawyer who can conduct an investigation to determine if your loved one is being mistreated.