Dehydration and Malnutrition

Sometimes, residents need assistance to eat and drink. If caretakers refuse to help, they are breaking the law. We may be able to recover financial compensation above and beyond compensation for your loved one's injury, pain and suffering. Under federal law, nursing homes must:

  • Ensure that residents receive sufficient nutrition and maintain an acceptable body weight unless another medical condition exists where nutrition issues are unavoidable
  • Ensure that residents receive sufficient hydration through proper fluid intake
  • Treat malnutrition or dehydration as soon as it becomes evident, making sure that the resident is put on a therapeutic diet

Dehydration and malnutrition are the two most common types of ailments resulting from nursing home neglect. In addition to causing serious health problems, dehydration and malnutrition can be deadly in older adults. Unfortunately, many complications and deaths resulting from dehydration and malnutrition can be avoided. If your loved one is suffering from malnutrition or dehydration in a nursing home, there is a good chance they are experiencing nursing home neglect.

Malnutrition, or lack of proper nutrition, can be a life-threatening condition in the elderly. A common sign of nursing home neglect is malnutrition, which means more than not getting enough food. When a person suffers from malnutrition, they are not receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals to function properly. Malnutrition can lead to a handful of serious medical problems, including:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Impairment of organs
  • Infections
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Weakness, which can result in falls, bedsores and pneumonia
  • Anemia
  • Death

Inadequate hydration, or dehydration, occurs when an individual's loss of fluids is greater than their intake. Like malnutrition, dehydration is a common sign of nursing home neglect that can lead to serious medical issues, such as:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bedsores
  • Pneumonia
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Death

Dehydration is one of the ten most frequent diagnoses in Medicare hospitalizations according to the Health Care Financing Administration. When a person gets older, their risk for developing dehydration increases. In fact, individuals between the ages of 85 and 99 are six times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for dehydration. Nursing home staff members should understand that elderly people are more susceptible to dehydration. Therefore, preventative measures should be taken by nursing home employees to ensure that residents are properly hydrated.

Individuals at risk for dehydration should follow a special program in the nursing home. The program should include helping the resident with drinking, recommending fluids during and in between meals, being aware of signs of dehydration, notifying a doctor if such symptoms appear and recording the resident's IV fluid replacement when necessary. By taking small steps, many health problems and deaths resulting from dehydration can be prevented in nursing home residents.

Approximately two in every five nursing home residents suffers from malnutrition. In addition, dehydration is the most common fluid disorder in the elderly. Malnourishment in nursing home residents can result from the individual's inability to process food or poorly fitting dentures. Dehydration can occur from diarrhea or side effects of certain medications. Unfortunately, dehydration and malnutrition in nursing home residents often occurs because of nursing home negligence.

Nursing home negligence occurs when staff members are untrained, unsupervised, or inattentive. Many nursing homes fail to educate employees on proper feeding methods or supervise workers who provide nutritional services. Many nursing homes also rely on liquid supplements instead of ensuring that each nursing home resident gets the proper vitamins, minerals and calories through meals.

Statistics report that nearly 50% of residents in nursing homes needs help with eating, while 21% are completely dependent. In addition, nursing home residents also need an increased amount of water due to dehydration caused by medications. If a nursing home does not have an adequate number of employees, many patients can go without food or drink for an extended period of time.

If your loved one is showing signs of malnutrition or dehydration in a nursing home, negligence may be to blame. Our nursing home abuse attorneys can investigate your claim and help put an end to the neglect. Do not hesitate to contact us today if your loved one is suffering from malnutrition or dehydration in a nursing home.

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