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Dehydration in Los Angeles Nursing Homes

Every nursing home has a legal obligation and ethical responsibility to ensure the safety, well-being and health of its residents. This includes making sure that all residents have access to clean water and are drinking enough fluids. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes and their employees in Los Angeles take proper care of their residents. 

Nursing home facilities may be guilty of elder neglect or abuse that leads to dangerous levels of dehydration. If your loved one suffered from the effects of dehydration in a nursing home, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a civil lawsuit against the facility. You may need a Los Angeles nursing home abuse attorney’s help in holding a facility accountable for dehydration.

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration means having too little water in the body. It occurs when someone loses more water than they ingest – resulting in the body not getting as much water as it needs to function properly. Water makes up more than two-thirds of a healthy body. The loss of too much fluid upsets the body’s balance of salts and sugars, which can impact how the body functions, causing organ damage and other serious health problems. Dehydration can result in kidney damage and kidney stones, as well as a loss of strength and stamina, physical exhaustion, and even death.

Signs of Dehydration in a Senior Citizen

Nursing home residents are constantly losing water through sweat, urine, stool and breathing. If an elderly individual has an illness, such as the flu, vomiting or diarrhea, this can increase the amount of water lost from the body. Diabetes and other long-term health conditions can also contribute to the loss of fluids. If these lost fluids are not adequately replaced, the body will eventually lose enough water to interfere with the function of vital organs and systems. 

It is a nursing home’s responsibility to look for the signs of dehydration in its residents, which can include: 

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Dry or papery skin texture
  • Skin that tents when pressed on
  • Sunken appearance (eyes and cheeks)
  • Expressing thirst or discomfort
  • Decreased urination
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Lack of sweat
  • Confusion or irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Loss of consciousness (severe cases)
  • Delirium (severe cases)

If a nursing home resident is exhibiting serious symptoms of dehydration, it means the condition has already progressed enough to have an adverse effect on his or her bodily functions. It is critical for the resident to receive immediate treatment for the depletion of fluids. This does not mean a large influx of water but a rehydration solution that replaces lost minerals in the body. Proper medical care to treat dehydration is crucial for survival and recovery.

A dehydrated nursing home resident in Los Angeles lies in bed

Dehydration in a Los Angeles Nursing Home Can Have Deadly Consequences

Dehydration can have many effects on a victim, both physical and psychological. Not consuming enough fluids can result in organ damage, fatigue, kidney failure and an overall decline in health. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to life-threatening complications, including seizures, swelling in the brain and a coma. Dehydration in living facilities often goes hand-in-hand with malnourishment. This can have additional effects, such as weakness, fatigue, weight loss and vitamin deficiencies.

Dehydration can affect a victim’s mind, as well. A lack of water can deplete the brain’s cells of necessary oxygen, interrupting essential brain functions. This can lead to confusion, disorientation, depression and other mental health problems. Studies have shown that dehydration can accelerate cognitive declines in residents with dementia, worsening the symptoms and effects of a mental health condition. In the most severe cases, dehydration can result in death.

What Can Cause Dehydration in a Nursing Home?

The elderly are at a higher risk of suffering from dehydration than younger populations. Adults over the age of 65 are more prone to physical and mental health conditions that can interfere with their drive to drink. Someone with dementia, for example, may forget to drink, fail to recognize the feeling of thirst or develop a phobia of water. 

Physical health problems can also impact the ability to drink, such as trouble swallowing (dysphagia) or an increased risk of choking. In addition, certain medications can have a diuretic effect, leading to a necessary increase in water intake to avoid dehydration. It is a nursing home’s responsibility to ensure that high-risk individuals have plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. The failure to do so – either negligently or intentionally – can have life-threatening consequences. A Los Angeles dehydration attorney is prepared to fight for your injured loved one.

Can You Sue a Los Angeles Nursing Home for Dehydration?

Dehydration is often a sign of nursing home resident neglect or abuse. Elder neglect can make a staff member carelessly fail to address a resident’s basic needs, such as bringing the individual water regularly and making sure that he or she drinks it. If a nursing home is overstaffed or does not properly train its employees, for example, a resident’s hydration needs may be overlooked.

Dehydration could also be a sign of elder abuse, such as a perpetrator intentionally withholding food or water from your loved one as a form of physical and/or psychological abuse. In either case, your family will have the right to file a lawsuit against the nursing home staff in LA for mistreating the victim and causing his or her health problem. A successful lawsuit against a nursing home can result in just and financial compensation. 

A compensatory award can pay for a victim’s necessary medical bills, diminished quality of life, pain and suffering, legal fees, and other losses connected to dehydration. If a loved one tragically lost his or her life due to an extreme case of dehydration, surviving loved ones may be eligible to file a Los Angeles wrongful death lawsuit instead. Either way, you may need an attorney to help you with the claims process for a nursing home negligence case.

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Los Angeles Today

If your loved one suffered from dehydration while living at a nursing home or long-term care facility in Los Angeles, California, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free legal consultation about your rights. The Los Angeles injury attorneys at Rose, Klein & Marias can help your family with a complicated nursing home neglect or abuse lawsuit. We will demand fair and full financial compensation for the devastating crimes or torts of a trusted elder care facility that led to dehydration. Call (866) 674-5150 to speak to an attorney today.