If you have an elderly loved one who has been living in a nursing home, it's important that you know what the effects of dehydration are on the body and how to determine whether or not your loved one is adequately hydrated. Dehydration plagues residents in nursing homes and can lead to a number of health problems, especially in the elderly. Here's what you need to know.
Dehydration's Effects On the Body
Water intake is important. Without it, the body can begin to shut down. Here are a few things that can happen:
- Wounds may not heal. Cellular development is affected by lack of moisture in the body, which causes wounds to be unable to heal.
- Body temperature cannot be regulated. The body needs water to regulate body temperature.
- Hypovolemic shock can occur. This is when dehydration causes the blood volume to be low, which causes a drop in blood pressure. In turn, this reduces the amount of oxygen in the body.
- Kidneys can fail. A reduced blood flow can cause the kidneys to be unable to function, which can lead to sepsis.
When these things happen, the person can slip into a coma and/or die. It's important to understand that most of the damage from severe dehydration is not reversible. Because of this, it is crucial that you understand how to evaluate your loved one to see if he or she shows signs of dehydration.
Signs of Dehydration
One of the first signs that someone is dehydrated is when they feel thirsty. Therefore, each time you visit your loved one, ask if they are thirsty. Ask them to show you their tongue so you can see if it is moist or dry. Take one of their hands and pinch the skin on the back of their hand above the wrist. If the skin does not bounce back then your loved one is dehydrated. If your loved one shows any of these signs of dehydration, speak with the staff to request for a medical evaluation.
Legal Measures to Take If Dehydration is Diagnosed
If your loved one is diagnosed with dehydration, contact a malpractice lawyer to file a lawsuit for malpractice. If the dehydration is severe, your loved one's life expectancy will likely be shortened due to the irreversible damage that occurs with severe dehydration.
If the dehydration is mild, it's still a good idea to contact a lawyer so he or she can act on your behalf and send a letter to the nursing home informing them of your intent to file a lawsuit if they do not properly care for your loved one and make sure they are adequately hydrated.