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Chicago nursing home injury lawyersIf you have placed a loved one in a rehabilitation facility, assisted living facility, or nursing home, you know how difficult this transition can be. You probably worried about how your loved one would adjust to living in a hospital-like environment or had concerns about the quality of care your loved one will receive. Unfortunately, these concerns are often justified. Nursing home neglect and abuse is an issue in long-term care facilities across the country. One major problem which nursing home neglect can lead to is dehydration.

Nursing Home Patients at Increased Risk for Dehydration

When a person without physical and/or mental disabilities gets thirsty, they can simply walk over to the faucet and pour themselves a glass of water. However, the same is not true for most nursing home patients. Many nursing home residents suffer from physical conditions which make it hard for them to care for themselves. Residents who have dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other health concerns which affect cognition may not be able to recognize when they are not drinking enough fluids.

Another reason dehydration is a major issue in nursing homes is because many residents take medications which make them urinate more often and become dehydrated more quickly. For example, diuretics are medications which increase the amount of water which is excreted from the body. If a nursing home resident is on these types of medications, nursing home staff should be extra vigilant for signs of dehydration. Nursing home staff who do not help residents maintain proper hydration can be held liable for damages caused by this neglect.  

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyThere are a myriad of reasons an individual may come to live in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or rehabilitation facility. They may only need temporary care while recovering from surgery or a serious illness, or they may need to live in the facility permanently. Nursing home residents who suffer from severe mental and physical impairments need round-the-clock care and supervision. Residents with cognitive decline or aliments like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may not even remember to eat and drink without being reminded. It is for this reason that many nursing home residents can so easily become dehydrated or malnourished. Problems like understaffing and inadequate staff training can result in staff members who are not aware of the resident’s physical and emotional needs. Sadly, nursing home neglect can and has resulted in the death of residents. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, make sure to be vigilant for signs of neglect. 

Signs of Dehydration in Nursing Home Patients

A National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform study found that nearly a third of nursing home residents in the U.S. suffer from dehydration or malnutrition. Symptoms of dehydration can vary depending on the age and health of a nursing home resident. The most common initial symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, dry or papery skin, dark colored urine, and a decrease in the urine production. If left untreated, dehydration can worsen and lead to sunken eyes and cheeks, low blood pressure, irregular breathing, delirium, and unconsciousness. Severe and persistent dehydration can lead to death.

Signs of Malnutrition in Nursing Home Residents

The average human body can go about three days without water and about three weeks without food. However, elderly individuals or those with a serious illness or disability are much more sensitive to dehydration and malnutrition than the average person is. Signs of malnutrition can include abdominal pain and bloating, weight loss, changes in how clothing fits, weakness, poor wound healing, and dental problems. Malnutrition in elderly nursing home residents can exacerbate existing health problems as well as cause a weakened immune system which increases the risk of infections. Decreased bone mass and muscle weakness due to malnutrition can make a nursing home resident more likely to fall and be seriously injured or killed.

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Illinois nursing home neglect lawyerThere are many different reasons a person may bring a lawsuit against a nursing home or medical staff member. Sometimes a nursing home harms a resident not by what they did but by what they failed to do. Residents in a nursing home are often elderly, suffering from age-related illnesses, or recovering from surgery. They therefore require a much higher level of care than a healthy person would. When nursing homes are understaffed or for other reasons cannot adequately care for their residents, the residents’ health may suffer as a result. One of the most common ailments caused by nursing home neglect is dehydration

The Sick and Elderly Are Especially Vulnerable

While a human can survive without food for an impressive three weeks or more, water is a different story. Our bodies crave water, and without it, they start to shut down. Most individuals would die without water within a mere three days. When nursing home residents do not get enough to drink, they can suffer from considerable health consequences and physical discomfort.

Dehydration is sadly quite common among elderly residents staying in nursing homes. There are a few reasons for this. Some residents have physical disabilities which make it difficult to sit up or swallow water. Other residents have trouble speaking and cannot tell staff when they are thirsty. Those residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other cognitive impairments may not be able to recognize when they are dehydrated, let alone express this to nursing home staff. Because many residents cannot do so themselves, nursing home staff have a duty to monitor residents’ hydration and make sure they are getting enough to drink. When nursing home staff fail to uphold this serious responsibility, they and the organization they work for can be held legally liable for residents’ suffering and harm.

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