Even though nursing homes are often busy places, medical staff at most facilities do a good job of taking care of residents. Unfortunately, though, nursing home neglect has become increasingly common in recent years. If your elderly relative does not receive proper care, his or her life may be in danger.
Dehydration may be a form of nursing home neglect. This condition happens when a resident does not consume enough fluids. Certain medications, some illnesses, impaired kidney function and loss of thirst may contribute to dehydration. To be sure your loved one is not suffering from it, watch for the following four symptoms:
- Swallowing difficulties
Dry mouth is often an early symptom of dehydration. Because you may have no way to know whether your relative’s mouth is dry, you may want to pay attention at mealtimes. If your loved one has trouble swallowing, dehydration may be to blame.
- Mental impairments
Your aging relative’s brain may not function properly if it does not have adequate hydration. Therefore, your dehydrated loved one may experience confusion, dizziness or disorientation. Unfortunately, identifying these symptoms in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be difficult.
- Physical pain
Dehydration can be tremendously painful. If a nursing home resident has headaches, joint pain or nausea, you should investigate whether he or she is consuming enough fluids. This is particularly true if physical pain does not seem to relate to another illness, injury or medical condition.
- Body function complications
Without adequate hydration, your aging relative may have difficulty producing urine or having bowel movements. Dehydrated individuals may also have dark, foul-smelling urine or abnormally colored stools. Similarly, if your relative is suffering from dehydration, he or she may have a rapid heart rate or low blood pressure.
Like many nursing home residents, your aging relative may face some barriers to proper hydration. If you observe any indication your loved one may not be drinking enough water, though, you may need to intervene to prevent long-term harm.