If you have a loved one who lives in a nursing home, you can probably trust nurses and others to provide adequate care. Still, according to the National Council on Aging, as many as 10% of those over the age of 60 have experienced some type of nursing home abuse or elder neglect.

Identifying neglect is not always easy, especially in its early stages. While there may be many different signs your loved one is not receiving proper care, dehydration is often the first indicator of elder neglect.

Symptoms of dehydration

Dehydration happens for a simple reason: more fluids leave the body than enter it. If you regularly visit your elderly friend or relative in the nursing home, you should watch for symptoms of dehydration.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these may include one or more of the following:

  • Dry mouth or thirst
  • Headaches, dizziness, nausea or confusion
  • Muscular weakness
  • Dry, shriveled or sunken skin
  • Fever or seizures

At-risk individuals

Because the human body is approximately 75% water, it is vital to replace fluids lost through sweat, urine and other metabolic byproducts. Unfortunately, though, individuals in nursing homes often have difficulty consuming fluids.

The following nursing home residents may have a higher risk of dehydration:

  • Residents who have diabetes, kidney disease, certain glandular disorders or alcoholism
  • Residents who have memory problems or mobility difficulties
  • Residents who take certain medications
  • Residents who do not receive adequate supervision or care

For at-risk individuals, dehydration can quickly turn from a minor concern to a medical emergency. Therefore, nursing home professionals should implement a specialized care plan for any resident who has an elevated risk of dehydration.