If a nursing home resident is not eating an adequate amount of nutritious food or drinking enough liquids every day, he or she may suffer from malnutrition and dehydration. It is the nursing facility’s duty to make sure each resident is eating and drinking enough to stay in good health.
If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home and you believe he or she is not consuming enough nutrition or liquids, the caring nursing home abuse attorneys at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy can help. We know how to carefully investigate such cases, and we can fight for your loved one’s right to compensation if he or she has received inadequate care for his or her nutritional needs.
We charge no upfront fees of any kind, and you pay us nothing unless we are able to help you obtain compensation for your claim. We offer a no-obligation, confidential consultation, so there is absolutely no risk to you to contact us today.
What Is Malnutrition?
Every person’s body has certain basic, essential nutritional requirements that must be met in order to live and move properly. When a person is not consuming an adequate amount of nutrients and calories to sustain his or her muscles, bones, organs and normal energy levels, malnutrition will result.
It is up to a nursing home’s staff to ensure every resident is consuming enough nutrition, and any case of malnutrition must be reported to the nurse on staff or the attending physician so the problem can be addressed.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists five recommended food groups that each person should consume every day for optimum health. These groups are:
If possible, a nursing home resident should receive meals every day with all five of these food groups. All five can be included in a simple meal consisting of a sandwich made with meat and cheese, plus side dishes of fruits and vegetables. If a resident cannot eat certain foods, the resident’s nutrition can be supplemented in various ways to ensure he or she is consuming proper daily nutrition.
Every nursing home in the United States is required to provide a standard amount of nutritious food every day to each resident, according to 42 U.S. Code § 1395i-3. This law ensures the right of every nursing home resident to “dietary services that assure that the meals meet the daily nutritional and special dietary needs of each resident.”
If a nursing home resident suffers from malnutrition but it is being ignored by the facility, the resident or his or her representative should consider filing a claim of nursing home neglect. Our law firm can discuss with you whether to pursue a claim for the harm caused to your loved one due to malnutrition and dehydration in the nursing home.
Causes Of Malnutrition In Nursing Homes
Malnutrition in a nursing home tends to occur due to a number of factors, including if a resident is:
- Not eating his or her food
- Not consuming sufficient vitamins and minerals
- Burning (using) more calories than he or she is consuming
- Noticing a metallic taste in his or her mouth due to certain medications
- Suffering from dental problems, making it hard to chew
- Suffering from a loss of appetite
- Unable to smell his or her food
- Consuming a lot of alcohol
- Forgetting to eat or drink because of dementia
- Eating less than usual because he or she does not enjoy eating alone or with strangers
Signs Of Malnutrition In Nursing Home Residents
When you are visiting your loved one in the nursing facility, there are several signs that may indicate he or she is suffering from malnutrition, including:
- Lower-than-normal energy levels
- Weak voice
- Weakness when walking or moving
- Asking or talking about food more than usual
- Saying he or she is hungry
- Not being as talkative as usual
- Noticeable weight loss or gain
- Tooth decay
- Fragile bones
Residents of nursing homes who are not meeting their nutritional needs tend to have weakened immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
If your loved one is showing any of these signs or is showing a general decline in health, contact the law firm of O’Connor, Acciani & Levy now. Our seasoned attorneys can investigate the situation, and we can determine whether your loved one may be suffering from malnutrition and dehydration in the nursing home.
If so, your loved one may be entitled to compensation for the neglect and harm caused by the staff of the nursing facility, causing him or her to suffer. Contact our team today on behalf of your loved one to find out how we can help.
What Is Dehydration?
About 60 percent of the adult human body is composed of water, so it is essential that a person drink enough fluids to replace what is lost on a daily basis due to normal human activity. That is why a nursing home resident can become dehydrated if he or she is losing more water and fluids than he or she is consuming.
There are many reasons a person may become dehydrated, including:
- Drinking an insufficient amount of fluids
- Increased urination
Causes Of Dehydration In Nursing Homes
Residents of nursing homes may suffer from dehydration due to many factors, including the following:
- Hot conditions causing the resident to sweat excessively
- The resident has a problem swallowing
- The resident has pain in his or her tongue or throat
- The resident does not like the taste of the water or fluids being offered
Some of these issues may be easily solved, such as by modifying the thermostat or offering different beverages.
However, if a resident is suffering dehydration due to a physical problem or pain, the nursing home’s staff must report the issue to the nurse or physician on duty. The resident may require intravenous treatment or more skilled nursing than the facility can provide, so he or she may need to be transferred to a hospital or a different nursing home.
If the staff is not cooperating and addressing your loved one’s declining health due to dehydration or malnutrition in the nursing home, contact your lawyer as soon as possible. Your loved one may be entitled to compensation for what he or she has suffered. We can also counsel you in helping your loved one be transferred to a facility that can better serve his or her needs.
Signs Of Dehydration In Nursing Home Residents
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of dehydration in a nursing home resident include:
- Loss of appetite
- Red, flushing skin
- Dark urine
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth
- Cracked lips
- Tooth decay
- Fatigue or feeling faint
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Memory loss or confusion
- Bloated belly
It is the primary duty of every nursing home to ensure that each resident is receiving proper hydration to keep the resident as healthy as possible. If a resident is not drinking enough fluids, the staff must not ignore the issue. The nursing staff must talk to the resident and find out why he or she is not drinking enough, and the staff must then take the proper steps to try to increase his or her liquid intake.
There are several ways the nursing home can try to get the resident to drink more, including offering:
- Fruit juices
- Water flavored with a slice of lemon or lime
- Iced coffee
- Tea (green tea, raspberry tea, mint tea, etc.)
- Hot chocolate
- Yogurt drinks
- Nutrition shakes (Boost, Ensure, etc.)
- Company and companionship with other residents or staff
If you believe the nursing facility is neglecting its duties to help your loved one drink enough fluids and not suffer dehydration, our law firm can investigate the situation and determine how best to move forward with the case. Contact us today so we can get started.
Health Problems Caused By Malnutrition And Dehydration In A Nursing Home
According to the Mayo Clinic, health problems that can stem from malnutrition include the following:
- Weak muscles
- Lessened bone mass
- Wounds not healing
- Increased hospitalizations
The Mayo Clinic also lists health problems that can occur if a person is dehydrated, including:
- Memory loss
- Cognitive issues
- Insufficient digestion and elimination
If a resident is showing signs of malnutrition and dehydration in a nursing facility, he or she may need to be transferred to a facility that provides more complete care and oversight of each resident. Your lawyers at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy can perform a thorough review of your loved one’s case and determine whether his or her nutritional needs are being neglected by the nursing facility’s staff.
We offer a completely free and confidential consultation, and you pay nothing unless we are able to help your loved one obtain the compensation he or she needs and deserves.
What Nutrition Is A Nursing Home Required To Provide To Its Residents?
The nursing home staff must monitor each resident to ensure he or she is consuming a satisfactory amount of nutritious foods and drinks every day. Malnutrition and dehydration in nursing homes are problems that must be addressed on an individual basis, and each resident or his or her representative may need to file a claim if he or she is experiencing failing health due to a lack of nutrients and fluids.
Each nursing home resident must consume an adequate daily amount of:
- Proteins (meat, nuts or nut butter)
- Dairy or other calcium-rich food
- Water, juices, shakes or other fluids
These foods must provide an adequate amount of essential nutrients, including:
- Vitamins A, B, C, D and E
A nursing home keeps records of each resident’s levels of vitamins and minerals in his or her body tissues as determined during checkups by the nurse or physician, and the resident has the right to request his or her medical records for review and analysis. If the levels of any of the basic nutrients are consistently less than adequate, the resident may have a valid case of malnutrition or dehydration due to neglect by the facility.
A Cincinnati Attorney Could Explain Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes
Malnutrition and dehydration in nursing homes is a widespread problem that must be addressed one resident at a time. If your loved one is experiencing symptoms or showing signs of dehydration and malnutrition in a nursing home, the facility’s staff may not be providing adequate care.
If you believe this is happening to your loved one, do not hesitate to contact the nursing home attorneys at our firm. Our team has years of experience helping clients obtain the compensation owed to them for the pain and suffering they have endured due to the actions of others.
We work on contingency, so you pay us nothing unless we are able to assist you in obtaining compensation. Our consultation is free, confidential and without obligation, so call us today to find out how we can help your loved one get justice, proper care and respectable treatment.