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Why Residents Suffer Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes

When you place your loved one in a nursing home, two of their most basic needs that you expect the nursing home staff to meet are seeing that he receives the proper nutrition and liquids. Sadly, this is far from what goes on in many nursing homes. Discovering your family member is suffering from malnutrition or dehydration can be devastating and make you think that you are in a poverty-stricken third world country instead of the United States. This type of lack of care is completely unacceptable and can jeopardize your loved one’s health.

Causes of Malnutrition and Dehydration

An Elderly Nursing Home Patient Sitting in a ChairNursing homes are required to provide proper nutrition and fluid intake based on the patient’s needs. Because of the health conditions that many nursing home residents suffer with, staff must also assist some residents with eating and drinking and monitor those who are at risk of malnutrition and dehydration. Many patients are physically unable to get their own drinks or food and may not even have the ability to voice their needs for food and drink. Many patients are completely dependent on nursing home staff to monitor their needs and can suffer the most when caregivers fail them. Common ways that nursing home negligence results in residents becoming malnourished or dehydrated include:

  • Failing to provide food and water on a regular basis
  • Failing to provide food that is nutritious and contains proper vitamins, minerals, and proteins
  • Failing to properly supervise during meal and snack times and to assist patients who need help eating and drinking
  • Failing to educate staff on nutrition and feeding methods for those who need assistance
  • Failing to monitor patients who have difficulties chewing or swallowing—a common problem
  • Failing to watch and help patients who are socially withdrawn and not eating and drinking as a consequence
  • Failing to monitor residents with drug or alcohol abuse problems
  • Failing to properly monitor signs of dehydration and malnutrition
  • Failing to review patients’ dietary restrictions as set by a doctor and to provide food that meets these requirements
  • Failing to provide and offer liquids to patients between meals
  • Failing to monitor patients’ medications—which can sometimes cause or contribute to malnutrition and dehydration
  • Failing to seek prompt medical care if a patient shows signs of dehydration or malnutrition
  • Failing to measure and record patients’ food and liquid intakes

What Are the Signs Your Family Member Is Dehydrated?

Dehydration occurs when the body loses an excessive amount of water that disrupts the body’s functions. Signs your loved one is suffering with this include:

  • Dry and sticky mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry skin
  • Urine that is dark in color
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Chills
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
  • Life threatening symptoms such as vomiting, problems breathing, or seizures.

Symptoms of Malnutrition to Watch For

Malnutrition is not only caused by the lack of food, but also by failing to eat foods containing the proper nutrition to meet the daily requirements of elderly residents in general. Symptoms that someone is malnourished include:

  • Weight loss
  • Gums that are bleeding or swollen and tooth decay
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Decline in mental and memory abilities
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Dry skin
  • Mental confusion

Health Problems Caused by Dehydration and Malnutrition

Both dehydration and malnutrition should not be taken lightly; they are life-threatening conditions. They can also lead to other serious medical disorders including:

  • Problems with wounds healing
  • Muscle weakness, which can cause falls and fractures
  • Weakened immune system that can cause the patient to be prone to infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Ulcers
  • Confusion and disorientation that can cause the patient to suffer other injuries
  • Life-threatening imbalance in the patient’s electrolytes

Malnutrition and dehydration of our loved ones in nursing homes should never happen and is so easily preventable. If your family member suffers with either of these conditions, he is relying on you to stop the nursing home’s abuse and neglect and to help him obtain the compensation he deserves. Call us today at 877-401-6689 to schedule a free consultation with David Brauns.

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