Federal guidelines require nursing homes to provide specific nutritional requirements for their elderly residents that comply with their specific dietary needs. Common sense, as well as scientific studies, have shown that nutrition plays a key role in anyone’s health, and especially in the health of older and frailer senior adults.
If you discover that your elderly loved one in a nursing home suffered from any form of malnutrition, there is a chance it may be due to nursing home abuse or neglect. Malnutrition can create additional serious medical conditions or even result in an elderly person’s death. If you suspect that your elderly loved one suffered from malnutrition in a nursing home due to the facility’s neglect or abuse, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to help you determine your legal rights.
Elder Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
Healthy nutrition helps anyone, young or old. As a person ages, nutrition plays an even greater role in their health and strength. Each elderly resident of a nursing home should have their nutritional needs accurately assessed by a medical professional, and then consistently monitored for any needed changes.
In some cases, a resident may lose the ability to swallow easily, which would mean their food would need to change. In other cases, a resident may need to increase or eliminate certain foods due to new medications. Every single resident should have proper nutrition that addresses their specific health needs.
Unfortunately, malnutrition is prevalent in nursing home facilities. Nursing home employees and nurses have a responsibility and obligation to ensure that residents actually eat the food provided, and that the food is nutritious. If a resident of a nursing home develops any form of malnutrition, it is highly likely the malnutrition is a result of nursing home neglect or abuse.
Signs of Malnutrition
If you feel concerned that your elderly loved one may suffer from malnutrition, the following are some warning signs that oftentimes accompany malnutrition in the elderly:
- Low blood pressure (when there was previously no sign of low blood pressure).
- Sunken eyes.
- Decreased urination (also a possible sign of dehydration).
- Rapid weight loss due to no other reason or medication.
- Tooth decay.
- Bloated abdomen.
Unfortunately, many of these warning signs are vague and not easily identifiable as strictly a sign of malnutrition. However, if you begin to see your elderly loved one develop similar signs or symptoms to these, you may want to have a conversation with your nursing home management about the nutritional diet your loved one eats daily.
If the nursing home staff seems hesitant or fails to provide you with the daily diet of your elderly loved one, they may be attempting to hide their negligence with respect to your loved one’s daily nutritional needs. If you do not receive documentation regarding what the nursing home provided to your elderly loved one regarding their nutrition, or if you feel what they provided was inaccurate, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm regarding the malnutrition of your elderly loved one.
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Serious Consequences of Malnutrition in the Elderly
Many elderly residents of nursing homes suffer from fragile and weak immune systems, and nutrition can provide them additional support physically. If a nursing home resident suffers from malnutrition for any period, the results can be severe and include catastrophic injuries or even death. Some of the severe consequences can include internal organs beginning to fail, thinner skin leading to increased risk of bedsores (pressure ulcers), and an overall decline in health. If malnourishment lasts long enough, a nursing home resident may die.
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Reporting Nursing Home Malnutrition
If you believe your elderly loved one suffers from malnutrition, you should first bring your concerns to the nursing home management. If your elderly loved one has serious health issues due to suspected malnutrition, they should seek immediate medical attention. If you feel the nursing home is failing to handle the situation, you should always consider contacting the police. Additionally, if you feel your elderly loved one is being abused or neglected in any way, including the deprivation of nutritious food, you should contact Adult Protective Services.
Know that many nursing homes will immediately attempt to deny any wrongdoing or the appearance of abuse or neglect toward their residents. They may attempt to deny you access to medical records or other nursing home documents, or even access to your elderly loved one. If you feel that the situation is escalating, again, you should contact the police or Adult Protective Services.
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Acting Quickly in a Malnutrition Nursing Home Case
It is important to act quickly if you feel that your elderly loved one may be suffering from malnutrition. Those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may not remember the circumstances under which they were not provided with appropriate nutrition. It is important to keep an eye out for the signs in your loved one.
Additionally, the nursing home staff may attempt to destroy vital evidence that reflects the medical needs of each resident with respect to their nutrition and how that was or was not provided. If you feel pushback from a nursing home when you begin to request documents or question their nutrition protocols, consider visiting with a Forest View malnutrition lawyer for assistance. We can determine if you have a strong malnutrition nursing home abuse or neglect case.
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Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm
If you placed your elderly loved one in a nursing home, you expect that they would receive attention and care. Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of any person, especially in frailer elderly residents of nursing homes. If you believe your elderly loved one’s nutritional needs are not met in their nursing home, speak with a Forest View malnutrition lawyer from our team to help you determine your legal rights.