Dehydration in the elderly is a serious medical condition that should not be ignored by long-term care facilities. Anyone can become dehydrated if they lose too many fluids; however, the elderly are at a greater risk for dehydration. As people age, their ability to conserve water is reduced. Dehydration in the elderly occurs when water intake is not equivalent to the body’s needs. This is often a problem with older people who may lose their sense of thirst and generally tend to drink less than younger people. This problem of dehydration in the elderly is amplified by illnesses such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
The good news is that dehydration can be easily stopped and treated by replacing the lost fluids. Nursing staff should be trained to look out for symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration usually begins with a dry mouth, complaints of thirst or discoloration of the urine. Symptoms can progress to a loss of consciousness and even cause death if left untreated.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities must take measures to prevent residents from becoming dehydrated. Nursing home staff should educate seniors about the importance of drinking enough fluids. Generally speaking, the recommended water intake is eight or more large glasses of water daily. Nursing home staff need to ensure that elderly residents drink enough water. IV fluids may be necessary if the resident is unable to consume enough orally to replenish their system.
Nursing homes that fail to keep residents well hydrated can be held accountable for injuries to the elderly that result from dehydration. If your loved one was seriously injured due to dehydration at a nursing home, call attorney Brent Wieand for a free, no-obligation consultation.