Proper nutrition is critical for vulnerable elderly resident. Many Chicago nursing home abuse cases involve a plaintiff claiming that the facility breached its duty of care because the facility did not give its patients adequate nutrition and hydration. The elderly population has different nutritional and hydration requirements than the average person. Therefore, it is important to understand what these requirements are in order to understand how high the duty of care is for the facility in order to meet these requirements.
Nutritional and Hydration Requirements for the Elderly
It is common knowledge that as one advances in age, there is greater potential for health problems. In particular, face problems including, but not limited to:
· increased inability to properly absorb nutrients
· more prone to osteoporosis
· less energy
· decreased sense of when one is thirsty
Therefore, good nutrition and hydration becomes more essential given the various health obstacles that the elderly population faces. In other words, the nutritional needs of the elderly increase because of their bodies’ decreased ability to absorb nutrients. With an elderly person’s body being prone to various diseases, adequate consumption of these nutrients becomes crucial.
For example, as discussed by many geriatric health professionals, the body’s decreased ability to absorb calcium and vitamin D make it more likely that an elderly person will suffer osteoporosis. Thus, they must consume more of these vitamins in order to compensate for the decreased absorption. If they do not consume enough of these vitamins over time and they end up having a bad fall, it could cause a serious bone fracture and/or possible death. Thus, a facility has to make sure that their elderly patients are getting the adequate calcium and vitamin D needed to avoid these possible consequences.
Furthermore, an elderly person’s body does not fully absorb vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, both of which are essential for production of energy in the human body. Since an elderly person already has less energy, it becomes even more crucial that they consume enough vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 so that they can remain physically active in their lives. Less activity means more likelihood of diseases.
While a senior’s hydration requirements are not necessarily higher than that of the normal individual, there are several changes that happen in their body that makes hydration crucial to their well-being. Some of these changes include:
· Decrease in total body water
· Decrease in ability to sense thirst
· Decreased renal function
While an elder person does not necessarily have to drink more fluid than the average person, they need to have greater awareness of when to drink fluid as well as how much fluid they are drinking. Nursing homes must have nurses and doctors who can detect when and how much water their patients need.
Chicago Elderly Home Abuse Case
In order to prove negligence, one has to show there was a duty, there was a breach of that duty, there was direct or proximate cause, and there were damages. The description of the nutritional and hydration requirements mentioned above highlight how high the duty of care is for the facility.