Dehydration in Elderly Nursing Home Patients

One of the most common ailments elderly individuals experience is dehydration. This condition, which entails the loss of fluids in the body, terribly disrupts normal bodily functions. Water needs to be constantly replenished in the body in order for it to be able to work at full capacity. If more fluid is being released through the cells than the amount that a person takes in, dehydration occurs.

Elders are especially susceptible to dehydration and it poses an important problem to their health since it may cause other illnesses, some of which can be fatal. Proper water intake is vital for the health of the elderly and nursing homes need to be aware of this and plan to care for their residents accordingly to avoid dehydration.

Dehydration in Nursing Homes

Nursing home facilities deal with dehydrated patients on a daily basis. Dehydration is commonplace among senior citizens and is common in nursing homes. A recent study of 40 nursing home patients was done to test their fluid consumption. It showed that virtually all the patients within the facility had some degree of dehydration. Also, from the 40 patients tested, 25 had some sort of ailment that derived from this dehydration.

What Can Cause Elderly Dehydration?

In nursing home facilities, residents get dehydrated for many reasons. It is possible that some people of age have difficulty swallowing or are unable to let the nursing home staff know that they are dehydrated and need fluids. There could also be a language barrier where residents speak a language other than English and the nursing home staff is unable to comprehend their needs for water and other fluids.

Nursing homes, however, need to be aware that not all people will state their demands for fluid intake and need to take measures to ensure that no resident goes lacking from this important substance. It is also possible that the nursing home facility does not train its staff properly to understand the needs of these patients and that many staff members overlook this requirement.

Signs of Elder Dehydration in Nursing Homes

Dehydration is a condition that gets worse with time and needs to be treated as soon as it is detected. Most patients, regardless of age, gender, or racial background, experience similar symptoms of dehydration. These patients in nursing homes need to be watched carefully to check for signs of dehydration and are cared for properly.

These are some of the most obvious signs of dehydration in its early period. If a patient is showing one or more of these symptoms, hydration might be of importance:

  • Nagging thirst
  • Dry, pale skin
  • Sporadic urination
  • Dry mouth
  • Canker sores

If the patient is already severely dehydrated, some of the telltale signs can be:

  • No sweating
  • Disorientation
  • Irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Accelerated breathing, panting
  • Hallucination
  • Delirium
  • Inability to think or act straight

Dealing With Dehydration in a Nursing Home

Dehydration in elderly patients of nursing homes is very common. That said, if measures are not taken to rehydrate and to continue the replenishment of fluids, elderly residents might experience further complications that could have been easily avoided. If a nursing home is neglecting proper hydration, it is possible that confrontation is needed to handle the problem. If a family member of an elderly nursing home resident suspects dehydration issues, a call to an attorney might be necessary.

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