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Preventing dehydration in nursing homes

Out of all the potential nursing home injuries that come from a neglectful staff, few are as prominent as dehydration. Studies show that nursing home residents are more likely to be dehydrated than those living outside of these facilities in Illinois. A lack of proper fluid intake can drastically increase the risk of contracting a deadly disease at their age.

Your parents deserve the best care they can get at such a fragile point in their lives. Dehydration can affect them quickly, so it is important to recognize potential warning signs that they aren’t getting enough fluids and what can be done to help them.

Common red flags

While dehydration has multiple warning signs, they may be hard to distinguish in an elderly person since they are dealing with plenty of other health issues already. Regardless, you or a staff member need to pay attention to the following side effects so you can respond quickly to their needs:

  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Frequent headaches and reduced concentration
  • Reduced urine output with a darker color
  • Constant thirst and heavy breathing
  • Dry skin with little to no sweat
  • Sunken eyes
  • Increased confusion and sleepiness
  • Constipation

If you notice one of these signs, make sure to check to see if they need any water and talk to a staff member to see if they have noticed any other problems.

What can nursing homes do to help?

Workers need training on identifying dehydration symptoms so they can help elder patients as soon as possible. Older residents have limited physical and mental capabilities, so they can’t rely on them getting enough liquids on their own.

As such, the staff may want to consider implementing the following strategies to reduce this problem:

  • Include more fluids with meals and in the food itself
  • Have drinks available in multiple parts of the building
  • Coerce residents into a drinking routine
  • Monitor bowel movements and diuretics
  • Identify a resident’s favorite drink and what color could stick out for them with cups
  • Increase awareness during the summer and when a resident is sick

What makes dehydration frustrating is that it is one of the more preventable causes of deaths within Illinois nursing homes. Fluid intake is an essential part of our daily routine, and that doesn’t change no matter how old we get. If your loved ones suffered from a nursing home staff not providing them enough fluids, make sure you are aware of what legal options you have at your disposal to help you recover from the damage.

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