Nursing homes should provide care to the more vulnerable members of society. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Because of staffing shortages, financial limitations or other reasons, professionals in nursing homes across the country often neglect the needs of their residents.
If you have an elderly relative in a nursing home, you may wonder how to identify neglect. After all, your loved one may be incapable of complaining. While it is not always due to inadequate care, dehydration is often one of the earliest signs of nursing home neglect.
Symptoms of dehydration
The Mayo Clinic recommends seniors drink at least 57 ounces of fluids every day. Consuming less than this amount may cause dehydration. If your elderly relative is suffering from dehydration, he or she may develop one or more of the following symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Chapped lips
- Dark-colored or foul-smelling urine
- Sunken eyes
At-risk nursing home residents
As individuals age, their bodies naturally lose water content. In fact, nursing home residents over the age of 80 have 20% less water in their bodies than their younger relatives. Beyond age, other factors may increase a resident’s chances of dehydration. These include certain illnesses, injuries and medications. A senior’s loss of taste or smell may also cause him or her to drink less.
Proper hydration is important for overall health. Regrettably, dehydration can become catastrophic quickly. If your loved one does not drink enough fluids, he or she may develop kidney or liver problems, chronic fatigue or cognitive issues. Death is also a common consequence of dehydration.
Staff at the nursing home should monitor residents for signs of dehydration and take appropriate steps to rehydrate them. Ultimately, if you believe your elderly relative may be suffering from dehydration, you may need to intervene to save his or her life.