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Back to the Basics – Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes

In thinking about elder abuse or general patient abuse at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, it may be most obvious that affirmative acts, such as physical abuse, chemical abuse in the form of unnecessary overmedication, and sexual abuse. However, sometimes it’s the failure to act that can also jeopardize the health, well-being and lives of patients and residents of these homes. Sadly, among the omissions and failures to act are the serious problems of malnutrition and dehydration that occurs as a result of neglect of the care of the elderly and otherwise disabled members of our population.

The Consequences

Unfortunately, it is more common than one can fathom for residents of homes to lack the proper amount of food and water. In particular with food, malnourishment can occur from eating anything devoid of nutrients, not eating enough, or eating nothing at all if a staffer were to cruelly withhold food or water from a resident. This can all result in serious weight loss, which on its own is dangerous enough, but can also compound other problems where the body needs to be stronger to fight other ailments.

A diminishing physical state as a result of malnutrition and dehydration can lead to the exacerbation of other problems, and can cause or hasten one’s death. Without food or without the proper food and nutrients, patients can experience substantial weight loss, serious fatigue, and other maladies like tooth decay, muscle loss and failing organs, among many other issues, are all associated with a lack of food and/or water. The last annual statistic for nursing home deaths specifically as a result of in the most recent year accounted for is approximately 14,000. That is an astounding number of deaths in nursing homes for just malnutrition or dehydration related issues.

In many cases, malnutrition and dehydration is caused by a sheer lack of food and water for a home’s residents. It is not necessarily a low supply, but rather a lack of staffing at nursing homes that prevents residents from receiving the food and water they need at the right times. Sometimes it is also simply pure negligence (or possibly worse) where a staffer leaves food or water for a resident who due to a debilitating condition may not be able to physically reach or go across the room to retrieve the food or water. A lack of staff or a simply inattentive staff that does not aid patients in consuming food and drinking water when needed is a serious problem.

Take Action

If you or a loved one has shown signs of marked physical or mental deterioration while in the care of a nursing home or long-term facility staff, it could have something to do with issues of abuse or negligence. It is important to check that patients are receiving the right nutrients and water to keep their bodies stable so that they can live longer or be stronger to fight the other pressing ailments they already have. In instances of negligence that results in malnutrition or dehydration, it is important to have competent counsel to hold the facility and the staff accountable.

See Other Blog Posts:

Another Sad Story – Abuse and Neglect at Illinois Nursing Home

Warning Signs in Nursing Home Selection Process