Dehydration in Washington DC Nursing Homes

Dehydration can be a problem for anyone at any age, but it is particularly problematic for the elderly. When an elderly person is in the care of a busy nursing home, the problem can creep up and be left unattended for so long that it causes serious or permanent injury.

Dehydration in Washington DC nursing homes is a significant and widespread problem that must be taken seriously. Proper hydration is important to the health of the elderly and nursing homes must exercise proper care for their residents to avoid dehydration and other dangerous medical conditions. Contact a distinguished assisted living neglect attorney to learn more about your options. 

Dangers of Dehydration for the Elderly

Dehydration comes on with the body’s loss of fluids. To stay healthy, all people need to regularly take in water. For some people, including the elderly, dehydration can come on very quickly.

Once fluids are depleted beyond certain levels, dehydration interrupts normal bodily functions.  It can affect the body’s ability to maintain proper blood pressure, cool itself through sweating or eliminate waste products. Severe dehydration can be a factor for many serious health problems including:

  • Weakness
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Bedsores
  • Delirium, hallucinations and disorientation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dangerously accelerated heart rate

Sometimes these problems will worsen or compound upon each other and cause permanent injury or even death.

Causes of Dehydration in DC Nursing Home Patients

Dehydration is common in elderly nursing home patients for several reasons. Some medications taken by the elderly are diuretic (cause increased urination) or elevate sweating. These medications require an increase in their hydration to keep up with the medication’s effects.

For most people, the sense of thirst decreases with age. This, together with the fact that frail seniors often rely on others for their needs and/or have difficulty getting a drink for themselves, may lead to dramatically decreased fluid intake.

Certain medical conditions affect the body’s ability to retain fluids. Vomiting or diarrhea can cause dehydration to come on quickly. In addition, kidney function decreases for most people after they reach the age of 50 and becomes a significant problem for many over the age of 70. Since the kidneys are key to the body’s conservation of fluids, the elderly can be more prone to dehydration than younger people.

Any of these factors can quickly cause dehydration unless the patient or their caregiver is paying careful attention to fluid intake. Unfortunately, in a busy nursing home, not all needs can be properly attended to all the time. Too often, this can lead to injuries or even death for some patients.

When a nursing home’s negligence is to blame for a dehydration-related injury, legal advice from an experienced DC nursing home injury lawyer may be called for.

When to Seek Help from a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

It can be difficult to trust a nursing home to care for a loved one. Unfortunately, sometimes a caregiver will break that trust by subjecting a patient to negligent treatment. For the elderly, negligent treatment can often lead to chronic dehydration and result in serious injuries.

If this has happened to you or a loved one and you suspect that nursing home neglect was to blame, you should consider getting legal advice from a lawyer who understands nursing home abuse and neglect cases.

Nursing home neglect can take place when the home breaches its duty to care for and protect a resident in its care. A skilled and understanding lawyer can take the time to meet with the patient and their family.

After this, and careful review of medical records and other investigation, they could assess the strengths and weaknesses of a potential case and suggest legal options that may be available.

For anyone concerned about dehydration in DC nursing homes, a caring and knowledgeable lawyer is available to help. Contact our offices today to schedule a consultation.