Family members expect their elderly loved ones to receive the attention they need while in the care of a nursing home staff. The staff must carefully monitor the patient to ensure they are comfortable and healthy no matter their underlying condition. When there is abuse or neglect, however, the nursing home can become a frustrating, terrible environment for residents of all ages and health.
While certain factors such as physical abuse and medication errors might be clearly visible to visiting loved ones, other conditions could be more hidden. Dehydration, for example, could be a hidden, underlying cause for numerous other conditions that, until resolved, might only get worse.
Dehydration occurs when the body expels more liquid than is taken in. Whether this is from perspiration, diarrhea or vomiting, these actions can quickly create an imbalance in the body. If the condition continues to persist, however, severe dehydration can cause catastrophic damage that is only reparable through medical treatment.
The staff must monitor certain medications that act as diuretics in addition to ensuring the elderly residents receive the proper amount of liquids. Symptoms of dehydration can include:
- Dry mouth
- Infrequent urination
- Urine that is darker than usual
- Lack of tears
- Loss of balance
- Bloody stool
Unfortunately, there is an additional cognitive component to dehydration that can make victims feel confused, agitated, irritable and disoriented.
Too often, the elderly nursing home residents do not recognize their own serious symptoms. Even if they do notice the symptoms, they might attribute them to simply getting older. Fatigue, for example, could be an early symptom of dehydration or malnutrition, but the elderly might not mention it or simply assume it is natural. If you notice a change in activity or behavior of your elderly loved ones, it is crucial that you act quickly to find out the underlying cause. Do not hesitate to speak up for those unable or unwilling to articulate the abuse or neglect in their living arrangement.