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Dehydration and Malnutrition in Nursing Home Settings

Experienced Attorney

When it comes to the elderly residents in a nursing home, nutritional well-being is an essential component of any treatment plan. Dehydration and malnutrition can happen easily amongst the elderly as well as lead to more severe health problems. Not only can these conditions lead to weight loss, confusion, or infection, but severe cases can also become fatal. Proper nutrition and hydration is a basic right that every resident is entitled to, whether they are incapacitated or not.

Common Causes of Malnutrition or Dehydration

Adequate nutrition includes receiving enough minerals, proteins, calories, vitamins, and liquids to remain strong and healthy. Many different factors can contribute to nursing home residents not receiving adequate hydration or nutrition. In cases where the resident is unable to ingest or maintain adequate levels of these things, the nursing home staff is required to make adjustments to accommodate them. For example, if a resident cannot feed themselves, the staff is required to feed them so they can maintain their health.

Aside from the resident’s own physical or psychological limitations, other outside factors may include the staff acting in a way that is abusive or neglectful. Here are some ways that nursing homes contribute to malnutrition and dehydration themselves.

  • Inadequate supervision by staff to assist with feeding when necessary
  • Lack of exercise or individualized care plans
  • Ill-informed staff members who are not familiar with the proper ways to assist residents who need help
  • Food that is improperly served or unappetizing
  • A disorganized or chaotic dining room 
  • Leaving fluids in places that are not easily accessible to the patient 
  • Failing to administer tube feedings when necessary

Recognizing Signs of Malnutrition and Dehydration

If you think that your loved one may be suffering from a lack of food or water, keep an eye out for these potential indicators:

  • Recent, significant weight loss
  • Clothing that seems to fit more loosely 
  • Dry mouth that makes it difficult to speak
  • Cracked, pale, or bleeding lips or gums
  • Infrequent, dark urination
  • A tongue that is bright red, dry, and furrowed
  • Frequent complaints of thirst
  • Unexplained disorientation or weakness
  • Skin that feels warm and dry
  • Sudden and unexplained hair loss or thinning
  • Gums that have shrunk, causing dentures to no longer fit properly
  • Tooth loss or a tender mouth
  • Wounds that appear to take a long time to heal
  • Skin that appears “loose,” dry, or to be deteriorating

Residents at a nursing home deserve to be treated well and with respect. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of abuse or neglect, contact a nursing home lawyer, like a nursing home lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, right away to discuss your options.

Thank you to the experts at Wieand Law Firm for their insight into nursing home law.



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