If your loved one in a nursing home is not receiving adequate nutrition or hydration, this is referred to as undernourishment. Chronic and severe undernourishment can lead to malnourishment or malnutrition — a serious condition. The effects of malnourishment can be devastating to a person’s health. In some cases, malnourishment can be fatal. The following conditions and diseases are among the effects of malnourishment:
- Organ failure
- Discoloration of the skin
- Prolonged healing process due to decreased cellular function
- Severe weight loss
- Reduced fertility
- Developmental impairment and cognitive issues for younger individuals in developmental stages
- Increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease and failure
- Impaired immunity
- Loss of muscle mass and tissue
- Depression, apathy, anxiety, and reduced mental capacity
There are medical doctors and specialists, such as dieticians or nutritionists, who can help you create a plan for proper nourishment for your loved one and avoid these severe and sometimes life-threatening conditions.
All living beings need nutrients in order to properly function. Nutrients are generally found in the foods we eat and the hydration we acquire from water and other beverages. Sometimes people also take vitamins, minerals, and other supplements to help meet dietary needs.
Some of the basic nutrients human beings require include:
- Sufficient daily caloric intake
- Adequate hydration
- Essential and nonessential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
If you fail to meet your dietary needs, your body cannot function properly. The cells, tissues, organs, and complex systems need these substances to continue doing the jobs that collectively keep you healthy. Individuals who do not obtain adequate nutrition over the course of time are at risk of undernutrition or undernourishment. Malnourishment is a severe and chronic form of undernourishment. There are many factors contributing to proper nutrition or the failure to maintain nutrition. One of these is dependency.
Not everyone is independent enough to take care of their dietary needs. Not only does healthy eating require a baseline knowledge of nutritional needs, but it also depends on your financial resources, ability to go grocery shopping, and several other factors. Some dependent elderly individuals living in nursing homes, for example, completely rely on the trained staff at their facility to provide adequate meals.
Elderly people frequently have specific dietary sensitivities and requirements as a result of their aging bodies. It is the responsibility of a nursing home or care facility to take specific needs into consideration when caring for residents. If your loved one lives in a nursing home and is showing signs of malnourishment, they could be experiencing a form of neglect or abuse.
Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
While nursing homes create a safe living space for most residents, the sad reality is that abuse and neglect can still occur. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 requires nursing homes to maintain a high level of care to the best of their ability for every resident. If your loved one’s nutritional needs are not being met due to insufficient meal quality or quantity, this is in direct violation of federal law. If you are considering taking legal action or would like to know more about your options, there is help available for your loved ones.
A Nursing Home Lawyer Can Protect Your Loved One’s Rights
If someone you love is suffering from the effects of malnourishment, remember that there are ways to get help. Your loved one should seek medical attention as soon as possible. A physician will be able to help your loved one develop a treatment plan and visit with a specialist if further medical attention is needed. If your loved one is in a situation in which a limited supply of nutritional food is available, there are resources your loved one could be eligible for that may help them secure a more balanced food supply.
Perhaps someone you love is dependent upon others for meals and nutrition. Many elderly people living in nursing homes, for example, rely on the facilities for their food. If you believe your loved one is suffering from the effects of malnourishment because a third party is not providing sufficient food, you may want to consider taking legal action. There could be compensation available, depending on the situation. Call (800) 842-6336 for your free consultation with a member of the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to learn more about your legal options.