Dehydration occurs when a person loses more water than they take in. Adequate fluids are necessary in order for the human body to heal, regulate temperature, and eliminate waste. Nursing home and rehabilitation facility residents who are abused or neglected can suffer can become dehydrated and fall ill as a result. Those with mobility issues may need to be provided with fluids close-by or may even require manual feeding.
Signs of Dehydration
Family or friends of patients can check for the following signs whenever possible:
- Sudden confusion or dizziness
- Weakness or Listlessness
- Dry Mouth or sticky tongue (cotton-mouth)
- Sunken Eyes
- Inability to sweat or produce tears
- Rapid fluctuations in blood pressure
- Constipation, decrease in urine output, dark/orange colored urine
Visitors should spend as much time as possible observing their loved one in the nursing home and rehabilitation facility setting to look for anything that seems out of place. Minor symptoms, like those listed above, can be an early warning sign of neglect or mistreatment. Chronic dehydration can lead to severe health issues in the elderly, such as liver problems and infections.
Preventing Dehydration in the Nursing Home
Residents should be encouraged to drink even when they’re not thirsty and should also have adequate access to fluids based on their unique needs. Ensure that the facility follows a hydration program. This may include assisting residents with drinking on regular intervals and offering a wide variety of beverages to suit individual taste. Staff should also monitor residents’ weight levels and conduct routine physical and mental assessments. Consider other options, if possible, or consult management if a basic health and hydration program appears lacking in any managed care facility.