The Dehydration Problem in Nursing Homes

There is a better system and technology to impact relief when it comes to dehydration in nursing homes. Learn more below. ...
The Dehydration Problem in Nursing Homes
Written by Brian Wallace
  • More than half of nursing home patients are currently at risk of dehydration with many not getting enough water orally, leading to multiple chronic conditions and a higher risk of death. To understand the hydration gap, it is important to know that most of the patients affected are those with weight loss and malnutrition risks, wounds, or infections. Water intake is also not the same as hydration. Water intake is the water absorbed into the body while hydration is the water absorbed into your cells. Electrolytes are essential to hydration, but some patients are unable to get them from diets and water alone. Let’s dive in to solve the problem of dehydration in nursing homes below.

    Dehydration Explained

    Patients that drink even 5% less water can feel dehydrated and experience the dehydration cascade. This is when the body moves water from the organs into the bloodstream in order to balance the extracellular fluid. The process of water exiting several organs like the brain can cause patients to experience a change in mood, high levels of fatigue, and reduced cognitive functionality. The more dehydrated a patient feels, the more likely they are to withdraw into their room and become less involved in personal care. As a result, patients could be at a higher risk of health problems that may require serious care. 

    To the general public, dehydration may seem like an easy problem to solve, but it’s not. More than half of nursing home residents can be categorized as dehydrated and almost 90% of residents could be considered severely dehydrated. The dehydration cascade poses a serious threat to nursing homes as dehydration creates poor patient outcomes that unequally affects the patients in the hydration gap. This increases the risk of patient injuries, such as falls, and eventually leads to prolonged surgical recovery, increased hospital stays, and greater death rates. 

    Proactive Results

    Although medications like antidiabetics and antidepressants can make dehydration worse as they are known to reduce the fluids in the body and leave patients at higher risk, certain blood conditions can worsen the effects of dehydration as well, such as elevated hemoglobin and sodium levels. Evaluated lab values can only confirm dehydration and is not part of the prevention. Many patients do not know that they are dehydrated, but there are signs that you can look out for. 

    Dehydrated individuals might have a hard time communicating their needs with their caregivers while their bodies’ signals for thirst continue to decline with age. For some patients, even drinking enough water might not be sufficient for the body as imbalance electrolytes and micronutrients prevent efficient hydration. Also, as a person ages, their kidneys start to struggle to concentrate urine, meaning the body requires larger amounts of water to flush out waste. 


    Thankfully there are ways to fight the hydration gap with micronutrient supplementation. It supplies the body with important micronutrients that help with improving dehydration. It rebalances the intracellular fluid, readjusts the baseline for sustained oral hydration, and reduces the possibility of cognitive issues. The right infusion of minerals and vitamins will help with hydration, derma, nutrition, cognition, and infection. With today’s advanced technology, we can find solutions that will close the hydration gap for good.

    Nursing Homes Have a Dehydration Problem. Here’s How to Fix It.

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