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Is dehydration a serious problem in the elderly?

These days, the benefits of drinking water are apparent everywhere you turn. It is true that consuming the appropriate amount of water can prevent dehydration and generally make people feel better. Of course, many Texas residents may think that forgetting to drink water is not a big deal and that they can easily fix dehydration by downing a glass of water. However, that is not the case, especially with elderly individuals.

Individuals in their senior years are more susceptible to serious injuries and illnesses for various reasons. Often, health issues that may not have a significant effect on a younger person could put an elderly individual's health in jeopardy. Dehydration is no different, and if you have recently had to place a loved one in a nursing home, you may want to ensure that he or she is getting enough to drink.

Do the elderly become dehydrated easily?

Unfortunately, it is easy for elderly people to suffer from dehydration. If your loved one has Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia or cognitive issue, he or she could simply forget to drink enough throughout the day. If your loved one has mobility issues, it may prove immensely difficult for him or her to get a drink if water is not easily within reach or otherwise accessible.

Of course, nursing home staff members should make sure that your loved one has easy access to water and consumes enough throughout the day. If concerns exist about your loved one getting enough to drink, staff members should monitor that concern closely to prevent dehydration.

Signs of dehydration

If your loved one does become dehydrated, he or she could suffer serious health effects, like kidney problems, heatstroke, seizures and low blood volume. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your loved one, they could be red flags for dehydration:

  • Increased confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken-looking eyes
  • Shriveled skin

If you gently pinch the skin on the back of your loved one's hand and it does not immediately flatten out as usual, that could also point to dehydration.

What can you do?

Depending on the severity of the dehydration, your loved one may need immediate medical attention. This type of scenario may be understandably upsetting for everyone involved as you trusted the nursing home staff to care for your loved one. Instead, their negligence led to this harrowing situation. If such a case, you may have reason to take legal action against the nursing home in efforts to seek compensation for their negligence and resulting damages.

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