If you have an elderly relative in a nursing home, you understand the importance of adequate care. Unfortunately, though, nursing home neglect is alarmingly common. In fact, the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that nearly all nursing home residents have either experienced or witnessed neglect.

While some signs of nursing home neglect are hard to spot, others are clearer. Dehydration may be an early and perceivable indicator your loved one is not receiving the care he or she needs to thrive.

Symptoms of dehydration

Consuming enough fluids is a vital part of staying healthy. After all, hydration is essential for the body to perform virtually all necessary functions. If your elderly relative has any of the following symptoms, he or she may be suffering from dehydration:

  • Dry mouth or excessive thirst
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Difficulty producing tears or sweat

Dehydrated nursing home residents also often have diminished skin elasticity. If you pull the skin on your loved one’s hand upward, it should quickly return to its resting position. If it does not, dehydration may be to blame.

At-risk individuals

Nursing homes are often busy places with insufficient staff to meet the needs of all residents. Therefore, someone at the nursing home may miss dehydration warning signs in your elderly relative. Some residents, though, are at increased risk for dehydration.

If your loved one has mobility issues, he or she may not be able to access water independently. Also, if he or she takes medications that have a diarrhetic effect, fluid loss may be a problem. Kidney disease, diabetes and some types of cancer may also put a nursing home resident at risk of dehydration.

Your next step

While dehydration is not necessarily difficult to treat, it can be deadly. Therefore, if you suspect your elderly loved one is not consuming enough fluids, you must act quickly to avoid a potential catastrophe. If asking nursing home staff to intervene does not do the trick, you may need to move your relative to a different facility.