Poor hygiene often results from either self-neglect or neglect from caregivers. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), neglect and abuse in the form of caregivers failing to provide support for patients’ daily hygiene needs is a concern. While poor hygiene can have short-term impacts that resolve quickly with immediate attention, prolonged hygiene problems can lead to systemic health problems. Some of these health problems require medical interventions to treat. Untreated hygiene problems can become serious health problems that seniors and other patients may not recover from.
Any infection can worsen into a serious condition, especially for seniors. The immune system can fight off most common infections in nursing homes, Aging Health reports, but many viral infections can prove far more difficult to treat. Infections rarely occur if proper hygiene and sanitation practices remain in place. Frequent infections signal that patients are living in unsafe conditions or have consistently bad hygiene. Unwashed skin can grow bacteria that can lead to infections as well as a pattern of reinfection if the resident lacks help from a caregiver. Infections can also happen if administrators do not maintain living conditions. Seniors may lack the ability to manage all of these tasks on their own, so the nursing home remains responsible for providing these services as part of the standard of care required by the Nursing Home Reform Act. If one is wondering what types of diseases can result from poor hygiene, the following represent potential serious conditions that may result from a simple infection:
Gastroenteritis may result from the same conditions as frequent infections. Poor hygiene can create breeding spaces for viruses and bacteria that can cause serious infections like gastroenteritis. This condition refers to an inflammation of the stomach lining due to an infection. Infected food often carries the bacteria, meaning that any nursing home patient that has gastroenteritis may not have access to quality food. If the staff does not take careful measures, it can create health problems for the residents.
Bathing represents an important part of staying healthy. Unfortunately, seniors begin to lose their dexterity and flexibility. Bathing keeps the skin clean and removes potentially harmful bacteria. Without proper skin care, such as regular bathing, nursing home patients can develop cellulitis, or a skin infection that can cause pain and make it difficult to move parts of the body.
Along with other infections found in nursing homes with poor hygiene, Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) also poses a problem. Proper bathing and handwashing may prevent an infection, but seniors may struggle with basic hygiene, leaving them open to infections. Without proper bathing and sanitation practices, an infection may pass to the membranes of the eyes. When this happens, the eye becomes inflamed and turns a darker pink color. While mostly harmless, conjunctivitis can make patients uncomfortable and reduce their quality of life.
Hepatitis A has not posed a serious problem on a large scale for most people since a vaccine remains available. Still, hepatitis A can come from contaminated food. Foods contaminated by fecal matter can also carry hepatitis A and spread the disease. If this occurs in a nursing home, the quality of the food or the handling of the food may prove subpar. Hepatitis A can pose a danger to older adults already fighting an infection or patients with compromised immune systems. It affects liver function, making it difficult for the liver to properly filter blood and other fluids. This puts seniors, who generally have livers with reduced functionality, in a more dangerous position.
When asking the question what types of diseases can result from poor hygiene, one disease that can affect the elderly in a major way is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease stems from poor dental hygiene. An infection of the gums develops from bacteria that grow on the teeth or in the mouth. Proper brushing removes the food particles and the bacteria from your mouth. Without this daily care, bacteria can grow quickly. It can turn into a gum infection that needs medical intervention to fix. It can cause teeth to fall out of the jawbone, gum inflammation, and other dental problems. Early treatment of periodontal disease may correct any dental issues and to preserve your teeth.
Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
If one is wondering what types of diseases can result from poor hygiene, one must also factor in the possibility of nursing home neglect. If your loved one shows signs of poor hygiene or develops one of these conditions while under the care of a nursing home, you may have the right to hold the nursing home responsible for your loved one’s injuries. If you want to know more about your legal options regarding the care of a loved one residing in a nursing home, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 614-4857 to schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns.