Every nursing home has the responsibility to ensure that its residents receive proper nutrition. In some cases, this means that a nursing home employee will have to take the time to actually portion out and give correct sizes of nutrition to residents who remain reluctant to obtain this nutrition independently.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established nutritional guidelines that nursing homes must follow for their elderly residents. Following these nutritional guidelines ensures a higher quality of life, energy, ability to better withstand any injuries or medical complications, and the prevention of weight loss and malnutrition.
Unfortunately, some nursing home employees do not take the time and do not assist with portioning and sizes regarding the nutrition of their residents, leaving seniors malnourished and unhealthy.
Federal and State Laws Regarding Nutrition in Nursing Homes
Federal and state law both have specific guidelines that nursing homes must follow as they provide nutrition to their elderly residents. In fact, the University of Minnesota, School for Public Health compiled a detailed listing of the requirements and laws of every state in the United States with respect to nutrition and dietary services provided by nursing homes.
Every resident must receive their own specific nutritional requirements according to their own personal care plan that also adheres to the recommended daily allowances for their specific health conditions. Nursing homes have the discretion to substitute similar types of food; however, the nursing home resident must still receive the daily dietary requirements established under both federal and state law.
Additionally, under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, every nursing home resident should receive a re-evaluation of their nutritional needs every three months, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
Elderly residents of nursing homes already have muscle weakness and medical conditions that cause them to lose their strength simply due to the aging process. Proper nutrition in the correct quantities helps seniors maintain the strength that they have to help their overall health. The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
reports that more than half of all nursing home residents suffer from malnutrition.
Malnutrition occurs when an elderly resident does not receive the correct portion and sizes of the food required by dietary guidelines and accordion to their own specific medical needs. If a nursing home staff member does not assist with portioning and sizes for an elderly resident, they may not take the initiative to get that food independently or receive the proper nutrition necessary for their health and well-being.
Nursing home employees should not only assist with portioning and sizes for each resident. They should also take the time to watch residents and ensure that residents consume their food. In some cases, elderly residents may suffer from dysphagia (swallowing issues), and they require assistance to consume their nutrition.
In other cases, elderly residents simply have no appetite, and therefore must receive assistance and persuasion to consume the nutrition they need to prevent malnourishment. If an elderly resident of a nursing home develops any type of malnourishment, or medical conditions that relate to malnourishment, the nursing home staff’s negligence may have played a role.
Symptoms of Malnutrition
Mayo Clinic lists some symptoms and preventatives for malnutrition in the elderly. If you have a suspicion that your elderly loved one may not receive assistance with portioning and sizes resulting in their malnutrition, seek help immediately.
The following are some symptoms of malnutrition in the elderly:
- Newly developed case of low blood pressure
- A decrease in urination (which may also signal dehydration as well as malnutrition)
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Eyes that appear sunken in
- Rapid weight loss with no other explanation such as new medication or recent medical condition
- The development of depression, irritability or anxiety
- The development of lethargy unrelated to new medications or recent medical conditions
- Sudden tooth decay
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Bloating in the abdomen
Some of these symptoms are similar to those that any person would experience if they suffered from malnutrition; however, this list is not extensive or exhaustive.
If you feel that your elderly loved one suffered from malnutrition as a result of the nursing home staff failing to monitor them while they ate, or failing to assist them with proper portioning and sizes, you may have the right to pursue justice on their behalf.
Always visit with the management of the nursing home facility if you suspect that your elderly loved one suffers from malnutrition, and if the case is severe, consider removing them from the nursing home facility completely.
How a Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawyer Can Help
If your elderly loved one suffered injuries in a nursing home due to malnutrition, consider contacting Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. Learn how a nursing home neglect and abuse attorney may be able to help you seek justice on behalf of your loved one. Contact us at (800) 842-6336 or online today.