Extreme Thirst and Dehydration in Nursing Homes

Seeing your loved one suffer hurts – especially when you know their condition was preventable. Unfortunately, it’s too common that people visit a family member or friend in nursing home and discover that his or her basic needs aren’t being met.

Many elderly abuse and neglect victims suffer from extreme dehydration, and that’s absolutely unforgivable.

Dehydration in Nursing Homes

Once a person has lost 3 percent or more of their total body weight in fluid, a doctor can diagnose dehydration. Dehydration in nursing homes is most often the direct result of someone’s negligence; there’s no way around it. That’s because even if your loved one was not complaining of thirst (by the time someone is thirsty, they’re already well on the way to medical dehydration), nursing home personnel should be monitoring fluid intake and taking the appropriate actions to prevent medical problems.

A significant number of elderly people in nursing homes are physically unable to get up and get a drink on a whim, and many cannot voice their concerns. Dehydration can happen very quickly, and nursing home staff should be properly trained to ensure that every patient is taking in the appropriate amounts of fluid and nutrients.

Once dehydration sets in, people are at risk for several other medical problems, including a weakened immune system, worsened dementia, bedsores, ulcers, pneumonia, and a higher rate of developing infections.

Symptoms of Dehydration in Nursing Home Residents

If you’re visiting your loved one and you notice symptoms of dehydration, speak up. Watch for symptoms such as:

  • Thirst
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Flushed facial skin

More serious symptoms include vomiting, difficulty breathing, and even seizures. These are life-threatening emergencies in the elderly, so emergency medical treatment is necessary.

When Nursing Home Staff Neglects Your Loved One’s Needs

Your loved one depends on you to ensure that his or her care is sufficient, and having enough fluids is a basic human right. If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected in a nursing home, it’s essential that you follow up and, if necessary, remove him or her from that setting. You may also want to talk to a nursing home abuse lawyer who works in New York, because your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for the neglect he or she has suffered.


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