When an elderly individual moves into a nursing home or long-term care facility, he or she is likely going to have to adapt to a new lifestyle. The resident may need to forfeit some of his or her independence and may have to adjust to a communal living arrangement or having to live with a roommate. Nursing homes usually try to help new residents adjust to their new living situation. Homes generally have programs and activities designed to welcome new residents into the nursing home community and to help the new resident make a smooth transition. But one aspect of that big change often slips by with little consideration is how the new resident’s eating habits are going to change after moving into the residence.
A sudden change in a person’s eating habits can lead to malnutrition if something isn’t done to help the resident maintain proper nutrition. There are many aspects of a person’s eating habits that change when entering into a structured living arrangement, such as joining a nursing home community. For instance, a nursing home generally has:
- Scheduled meals served at specific times during the day;
- Cooks who prepare food on a large scale to serve many residents, so food is generally prepared only one way; and
- Meals that are prepared as three squares a day, with snacks made available in between meals.
Nursing homes follow this general framework when it comes to serving food to residents because it is the most manageable way to make sure residents receive their meals each day. However, while this style of dining sounds pretty normal, not everyone shares these eating habits. When a new resident moves into a nursing home and is not used to eating three square meals a day at set times during the day, that resident will be less inclined to eat enough to maintain proper nutrition and could become malnourished because the dining habits encouraged by the nursing home are so drastically different from the new resident’s personal dining preferences.
While it is important to closely examine an incoming resident’s nutritional requirements and dietary needs based on medical considerations, it is also important for nursing home staff to review a new resident’s nutritional history to get a better understanding of how he or she is used to consuming food during the day. Having a complete understanding of a new resident’s dietary background will enable the nursing home to develop a strategy to help transition the new resident to a three-meals-a-day dining routine.
There are many factors that play into a person’s dining preferences, such as religious customs, culture, cooking and food preferences, eating style, and family traditions. Some cultures only eat small amounts of food throughout the day and are not accustomed to being served large meals. Some people do not like certain food textures and find eating those textures unpleasant. These are important considerations when nutrition is at stake.
Contacting a Malnutrition Lawyer
If you visit your elderly loved one this year 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 or call us (800) 598-4348. The nursing home abuse lawyers at the Rooth Law Firm can assist you with determining what steps to take to help protect your loved one.