In a nursing home, one of the things that residents should have monitored is their fluid intake. The elderly often have trouble drinking enough water to stay hydrated, so the staff should be monitoring how much water they have in their meals or cups in their rooms.
When the staff doesn’t do this simple task, the elderly residents in the nursing home may become dangerously dehydrated. Unlike mild dehydration, acute dehydration has the potential to kill.
Acute dehydration doesn’t happen without symptoms
One thing that makes dehydration cases in the elderly frustrating is that dehydration doesn’t occur without symptoms. Dehydration, at early stages, may make a person thirsty. The person may have mild weight loss from a lack of water. They may feel weaker than usual in some cases.
As dehydration progresses, it’s common to see a more significant drop in weight and the development of hypotension (low blood pressure). The elder may be lethargic, thirsty and irritable. They may develop a weak pulse and could have tachycardia.
As dehydration becomes acute, it is common to see electrolyte imbalances. The kidneys and liver may not function correctly. There is a potential for brain damage, too. It’s common for the dehydrated person to be confused or to have an altered state of consciousness. They may pass out.
Hospitalization may be necessary in acute dehydration cases
Unfortunately, it is the case that drinking water may not be enough to reverse acute dehydration. Instead, hospitalization may be necessary. Intravenous fluids may be used to stabilize the patient and correct their electrolytes.
At the hospital, the goal is to stabilize the patient and then to develop a plan for treating and preventing dehydration. At this stage, it may be a good idea to talk to those at the nursing home to determine why your loved one was so seriously dehydrated. If their dehydration was a result of negligence rather than a severe illness, you may want to look into making a medical malpractice or nursing home abuse claim.
Elderly people deserve support and care. This includes treatment for dehydration or being unable to ingest enough fluids. Dehydration to this extreme is unacceptable.