Your father has been in a nursing home for about two months. During each visit to the facility, you notice he is gradually looking more ill. Something is not right, and you suspect that he may not be getting enough water. Your educated guess is that he suffers from dehydration.
A UCLA School of Nursing study from 2019 revealed that up to 40% of the elderly living in communities such as nursing homes are often underhydrated. This condition can graduate to severe dehydration, infections and life-threatening health problems.
Dry mouth, cramping, physical pain
What are the reasons for dehydration? There are a few. People may not be drinking enough water. Other causes include medication side effects, blood loss, diarrhea, extreme sweating and diabetes.
And, in all likelihood, elderly people like your father may not be aware of their condition. As people age, they often become less aware of their thirst because this ability often becomes dulled. The elderly likely do not feel thirsty as quickly as younger people. The result: They may not get the treatment they need, ultimately leading to more serious health conditions.
Signs of dehydration among the elderly include:
- Dry mouth and the difficulty to swallow.
- The inability to urinate.
- Cramping in the arms and legs. Serious dehydration includes severe cramping as well as muscle contractions in the back, limbs and stomach.
- Headaches and other physical pain such as nausea and joint pain.
- An overall feeling of weakness and ill health.
- Bloated stomach.
- Faster paced breathing.
You want to remedy this situation as quickly as possible. Could your father’s condition be the result of negligent and improperly trained nursing home employees? That remains a possible. Remain vigilant and do you best to ensure that your father gets the treatment he needs.