How to Recognize When Visiting Your Parents This Holiday Season

‘Tis the holiday season and families are making time to be together.  When a loved one resides in a nursing home facility, the family often will pile into the car and make a trip to the facility for a visit.  It is often an uplifting experience for a resident to be visited by family members.  Hugs and salutations are exchanged, chit-chat is made and well-wishes are granted around the holidays.  But during a visit, if your loved one requests food or drink from you, take a moment to consider why they are asking you for such things.  Are they simply confused and think you are a nurse? Is it nearly mealtime?  Or are there more serious issue behind their request?

Signs of Neglect

Malnutrition and dehydration are serious problems at many nursing homes nationwide.

These conditions have been shown to exacerbate existing medical conditions or can trigger more severe problems in the elderly including anemia, low blood pressure, tooth decay, broken bones, or even death.  These conditions produce visible manifestations of their symptoms in the form of light-headedness, fatigue, easy bruising, weight loss and poor dental health or bad breath.

Nursing Home Staffing Shortages

As nursing staff members take time off for the holidays, there is an increased risk that situations may arise where residents are improperly nourished or hydrated, especially in facilities where there is insufficient staff to meet the needs of residents.  Not only might the staff neglect to provide adequate food and fluids for residents this time of year but also the resident may be experiencing depression, which can cause appetite suppression.  With the holidays being full of visiting family and happy memories steeped in nostalgia, residents who do not have family, or who have family that lives far away, may become lonely and sad.  Residents who have recently lost a significant other may also be suffering from that loss and dealing with feelings of grief, loneliness, and bereavement brought on by memories of happy holidays spent together in the past.

Other cognitive disabilities can cause self-malnutrition to occur in residents. For example, residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may forget that they have not eaten or may eat less than they should to stay healthy.

Nursing home staff members are specially trained to identify physco-social impairments, such as depression, in residents and should take immediate action to address the resident’s problem.  However, when staff overlooks such mental health issues, either deliberately or due to inadequate supervision and oversight because of an insufficient number of available staff members, it is a form of nursing home abuse and/or neglect and should be promptly reported.

Make This Holiday Different: Stop Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

If you visit your elderly loved one this holiday season and believe he or she is suffering from malnutrition caused either by neglect or by the willful actions of the staff at the nursing home, please reach out to us. The attorneys at The Rooth Law Firm can help you to identify your loved one’s situation and can provide you with assistance with determining what steps to take in order to correct the situation.

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