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What you should know about dehydration

When people hear the term nursing home neglect, things such as bed sores, medication errors, falls and even elopement-related trauma likely come to mind. While these are all accurate depictions of this phenomenon, it's important to understand that it can also take more subtle forms.

For example, one form of nursing home neglect that is often overlooked, but which can have a devastating effect on the health and safety of elderly loved ones is dehydration.

What exactly is dehydration?

At its core, dehydration occurs when water loss outpaces water intake in the human body. Proper hydration is crucial, as it enables temperature regulation via sweating, maintenance of proper blood pressure and removal of bodily waste.

If too severe, dehydration can result in everything from weakness and confusion to pneumonia and loss of life.

Are seniors more at risk of dehydration?

Experts indicate that seniors are at an elevated risk of dehydration owing to just some of the following:

  • Kidney functioning declines with age
  • Sense of thirst becomes less acute with age
  • Certain medications common among seniors are diuretics
  • Frailty and/or caregiver inattention may limit water access

What are some of the symptoms of dehydration?

Some common symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Elevated heart rate/low blood pressure
  • Decreased urine production
  • Headaches
  • Confusion/dizziness
  • Sunken eyes

What can be done to help prevent dehydration?

If your elderly loved one lives on their own, experts advise you to have a discussion with them about the importance of proper hydration, perhaps keeping water bottles within reach on a nightstand and/or next to a favorite chair. Furthermore, they suggest a diet of foods with high water content like soup, fruits and vegetables, and having regular discussions about health.

In the event an elderly loved one resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility, experts recommend ensuring that staff members take the steps mentioned above and notify you of any symptoms of dehydration.

Here's hoping the foregoing information has proven helpful. If your elderly loved one is suffering from a condition that you believe can be attributed to dehydration or malnourishment, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.  

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