Dehydration in Nursing Homes

Has your loved one, who resides in a nursing home, suffered from dehydration? Do you suspect abuse is the reason? You should call Chris Hudson Law Group immediately.

Dehydration is defined as insufficient water inside the body to continue normal function. Dehydration in nursing homes is one of the most common forms of neglect and is considered a form of abuse. Eldercare residents are at a higher risk for dehydration for many reasons. Cognitive impairment can mean they do not recognize or notice their own thirst, and illnesses common in the elderly, as well as treatments for such illnesses, can have a diuretic effect.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of abuse by dehydration, Chris Hudson Law Group can help. We have experience handling elder care abuse cases and can help you navigate the complex legal framework of filing a claim or a case. Contact us today at (706) 863-6600 for a no-obligation consultation to discuss how we can help get you the compensation you or your loved one deserves.

Causes of Dehydration in Nursing Homes

According to a study conducted in 1999 and published in the American Geriatrics Society medical journal, 39 of 40 nursing home residents surveyed took in less water per day than they needed. Of those 39, 25 residents had illnesses or conditions associated with dehydration. In terms of nursing home abuse or neglect, dehydration occurs when water is either intentionally or unintentionally denied to a resident.

Our bodies constantly lose water through breathing, sweating, and passing urine and stool. If the lost water is not adequately replenished, serious dehydration can occur, with harmful consequences. Dehydration is common in nursing homes due to many risk factors, like cognitive impairment or high rates of illness.

Some causes of dehydration in nursing homes can include:

  • Diuretic medication
  • Frequent illness
  • Immobility
  • Loss of kidney function
  • Neglect
  • Inability to communicate beverage preference
  • Lack of adequate staff
  • Poorly trained staff

Dehydration in nursing homes is not always the result of neglect. A recent surgical procedure or loss of taste or smell may make it more difficult for an elder to take in the required amount of fluids. Abuse and neglect occur when the nursing facility is aware that a particular resident needs additional help taking in the water they need and either refuses or neglects to provide that additional help.

Symptoms of Dehydration Abuse

Though dehydration abuse is a form of physical neglect, it can be hard to determine that an elder is dehydrated because symptoms vary widely. This uncertainty can be exacerbated by a staff that is either overworked or not trained to recognize the symptoms of dehydration in nursing home residents.

Symptoms of dehydration can include the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Loss of mobility
  • Infrequent urination
  • Lethargy
  • Bruising easily
  • Inability to sweat
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Confusion
  • Receding gum line
  • Wounds are slow to heal
  • Mouth sores

Though dehydration is easily treated by administering fluids, if left unchecked, it can lead to severe health problems and even death.

If you or a loved one exhibits symptoms of dehydration while under the care of a nursing facility, they may not be providing the level of care you and your family deserves.

Health Complications Associated with Dehydration

Our bodies need water to function. If the level of water inside our body drops too low, our organs and normal processes begin to break down. This can be very dangerous for an elder care recipient or nursing home resident, as our bodies also grow more frail and heal more slowly as we age. This means that what may seem like a mild thirst to someone 35 years old may be a far more dangerous or even life-threatening condition for someone 75 years old.

Dehydration can lead to the following health conditions:

  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Seizures
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Bedsores

If dehydration becomes a chronic problem in a nursing home resident, it can eventually lead to coma and death.

Preventing Dehydration Abuse in Nursing Homes

As with other forms of abuse or neglect in nursing home facilities, the first step is recognizing that you or your loved one are not receiving the care they need. If they complain of constant thirst or a lack of attention to their preferred beverage, make sure the caretakers at the facility are aware and take appropriate action. You may offer to assist the staff at a nursing care facility by providing the resident’s preferred beverage, especially if it’s hard to find or not something a nursing home would keep in stock.

If the problem persists, it may be time to talk to the facility administrators. Advise them that they are not providing adequate care for one of their residents and that dehydration is a form of abuse and neglect. In most cases, the neglect is not intentional, and the responsible parties will be notified and correct the problem. The caretakers at an elder care facility need to be aware of the special needs of some residents and adjust their level of care accordingly. They should be monitoring fluid intake and urine output and be knowledgeable about recognizing the outward signs of dehydration.

What Should I Do If I See Signs of Dehydration in an Elder Care Facility?

If you recognize that a nursing home resident is suffering from chronic dehydration and the facility’s staff is aware of the problem and has not taken corrective action, it’s time to remove the resident from the facility and seek medical attention for them. Treatment for dehydration can be as simple as giving someone a glass of water or as complicated as an IV infusion, but it’s best to contact a doctor, advise them of the situation, and see what they recommend.

You’ll also want to notify the authorities, specifically Adult Protective Services and the facility’s ombudsman. If one resident is a victim of dehydration abuse, chances are that more residents of the nursing home are victims as well.

Finally, it’s time to contact a lawyer and take legal action. Let the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Chris Hudson Law Group help you get compensation for medical bills, relocation, and pain and suffering.

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer at Chris Hudson Law Group

Our legal team is experienced in handling a wide variety of nursing home abuse cases, including:

Call us today at (706) 863-6600 or fill in our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Last Updated : October 22, 2022