Why Nursing Homes Fail to Meet the Nutritional Needs of Residents
Illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, arthritis, known nutritional or eating deficiencies, disabilities, and mobility issues may result in nursing home residents to put on a specialized dietary plan to fit their exact needs. In these cases, a primary care physician and nutritionist should be consulted and a plan for health and nutritional goals should be created based on an evaluation of the resident’s related illnesses, medications, mouth or swallowing problems, and feeding issues such as tremors.
But even in the trickiest of situations, well-balanced, palatable meals, and fluids must be prepared, coordinated, and tracked by staff responsible for caring for the resident to ensure nutritional health is being met. When it is not, nursing home abuse and neglect may be considered as the cause for cases involving malnutrition or dehydration.
For example, when staff are not providing the proper attention of a resident’s dietary needs and review for possible weight loss (or gain), or staff shortages have created an insidious neglect cycle to rely on liquid supplements, residents are at a great risk of neglect by malnutrition, but also a swarm of other risky issues related to infections, tooth and gum disease, and general mental decline. In addition, residents who do not receive the proper nutrition and hydration in their diets are at an increased risk for the development of bed sores and also muscle weakness which can trigger fatal falls.
Family Members Can Watch for Signs of Malnutrition
Malnutrition can be a life-threatening illness and the severity of this type of neglect may only become noticed when signs are in the most fragile of state. If you notice any of these symptoms of malnutrition, it is important to speak up and act fast:
- Lack of appetite
- Diminished energy
- Difficulty in breathing
- Depression, anxiety and irritability
- Longer healing time for sicknesses
- Lowered mental sharpness
- Skin appearing thin, dry, inelastic, pale, and cold
- Dry hair or hair loss
- Vision disruptions
- Loss of body weight (fat, muscle mass, and body tissue)
- Tooth pain or gum infection
- Muscle weakness
Poor nutrition and hydration also make it more difficult for existing infections to heal. When any sign of malnutrition is a concern, even if assumed, be sure to discuss the situation with the doctor.
Nursing homes often fail to take steps to prevent malnutrition by not monitoring resident food intake and output, not providing a comfortable environment to promote eating and not providing food that is appetizing. Any sign of malnutrition or dehydration will rarely be an isolated incident and the chances are that others could be suffering the same problems – or worse.
Levin & Perconti: Chicago’s Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys
Levin & Perconti, a Chicago, Illinois personal injury law firm was one of the first in the nation to focus on the health and well-being of elders in nursing homes and have recovered over half a billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. If you suspect abuse or neglect of your loved one in a nursing home, please contact us now for a FREE consultation. We can be reached toll-free at 1-877-374-1417, in Chicago at 312-332-2872, or by completing our online case evaluation form.
Also read: 4 Deadly Nursing Home Feeding Tube Errors