If you have admitted a loved one to a nursing home, it is likely because you are unable to provide the care or treatment that your elderly loved one needs. You probably assume that the nursing home gives them the care, monitoring, and attention that is required by an elder individual who cannot live independently.
The unfortunate reality is that some nursing homes are understaffed. This means some patients are not attended to the way they need to be, sometimes with devastating results.
If a nursing home has admitted your loved one, it has likely taken on the responsibility of ensuring that he or she has a proper nutritional plan that takes into consideration his or her health needs–including the need for proper food.
A failure to train the staff to recognize symptoms of the residents not eating, or eating too little is a serious failure and may be tantamount to negligence, according to the Department of Justice. If you suspect that this is the case, you have the option to seek legal assistance.
Issues Preventing Proper Nutrition
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, abuse and neglect come in many forms, one of which is neglect, which can lead to dietary issues. Here are a few ways a nursing home resident may not get the nutrients and sustenance they need.
The elderly are at risk for many ailments that can lead to poor nutrition, such as dementia or depression. These issues can decrease an individual’s appetite or lead to trouble with eating. Some illnesses coexist with chronic illnesses that begin or worsen with poor nutrition, such as bone issues, chronic weakness, and muscle atrophy.
Restrictions on an individual’s intake of salt, protein, sugar, or fat can be good for the long-term control of issues such as obesity, hypertension, or diabetes, but they can also suppress appetite.
Limited Social Contact
Social contact can affect diet as much as the senses of taste and smell. Without social engagement, many older adults lost interest in eating.
Depression and Alcoholism
Loneliness, depression, and alcohol abuse can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. If a nursing home resident substitutes alcohol for meals, this will have a serious impact on the resident’s health, and the nursing home’s staff should be vigilant and watch for health changes.
Nursing Home Staff Training
Nursing homes must train their staff concerning elder care. This includes not only handling and treating home residents but understanding and identifying the telltale signs of health issues.
There is no single cause of malnutrition, and there are many reasons that a resident may lose interest in eating, according to Clinical Geriatric Medicine. Staff must take note of the regular eating routines of residents, what they like and dislike, and make sure they take their medications at the right time and in the right way.
Training on identifying other worrisome signs of deteriorating health can also help. These go beyond identifying weight changes and should include training on identifying depression, anxiety, and stress. Staff should also be trained on other forms of abuse, such as emotional abuse and abandonment, both of which classify as serious forms of elder abuse, according to the National Institute on Aging.
A failure to do these things may be tantamount to negligence. If it can be proven that factors that affected appetite and nutritional intake led to poorer health outcomes and were preventable, you may be able to hold the nursing home liable for a failure to train the staff to recognize symptoms of the residents not eating, or eating too little.
There are a few things you can do if you suspect that your loved one is not getting the food or nutrition that they need, such as:
- Try to observe his or her eating habits. Try to visit even if it is not a special occasion, and spend time with them during mealtimes.
- Look for indications of weight loss. Hair loss, lethargy, and clothes that no longer fit are indicators of poor nutrition.
- Know the medications that your loved one takes. Some medications suppress appetite and can affect digestion as well as nutrient absorption.
How We Can Help
The responsibility for addressing issues such as food intake and nutrition belongs to the professional staff on duty at your loved one’s nursing home, and you can hold them accountable for it. If a failure to train the staff to recognize symptoms of the residents not eating, or eating too little leads to illness, health complications, or injuries, you can seek legal assistance when attempting to hold the nursing home liable for its neglect.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm wants to see if we can help you. Call us at (800) 842-6336 for a free case evaluation. Your loved one should not have to suffer because of the carelessness or oversights of the nursing home, and we work to ensure that any abuse or mistreatment your loved one is enduring does not continue to cause them harm in the future. Call today.