How Malnutrition Can Harm Nursing Home Residents
The most recent reports about malnourishment or malnutrition in nursing home residents show that anywhere between 35 and 85 percent of all residents suffer from nutritional deficiencies each year. This number alone is troubling, as most cases of malnutrition are avoidable through proper assessments and care. Even more troubling, however, are the serious or fatal consequences that can stem from malnutrition.
Common Complications of Malnutrition in Nursing Home Residents
A balanced diet helps to regulate your loved one’s body. Without that balance, your loved one becomes susceptible for numerous health complications, including:
- Altered mental status: Low nutritional status leads to confusion and other altered mental states. This complication alone is quite problematic, as it can lead to many other issues in the body, including respiratory failure and kidney failure.
- Altered skin integrity: Lack of moisture and nutrients causes the skin to break down faster. This can lead to skin infections and bed sores.
- Deconditioning: Malnutrition often leads to a weakening in a resident’s body. It breaks down muscle mass and can even lead to immobility. This immobility can increase the likelihood for other physical and psychological consequences, including bed sores and depression.
- Electrolyte imbalance: Changes in electrolyte levels can have negative effects on your loved one; an imbalance can lead to confusion, seizures, coma and heart attacks.
- Pneumonia: Just one case of pneumonia can have long-term consequences on your loved one’s lungs, ranging from difficulty breathing to abscesses to fluid accumulation. It can also potentially lead to organ failure if bacteria from the lungs enter the bloodstream.
- Anemia: Your loved one can contract anemia if he or she does not take in a balanced diet. Anemia can have long-term consequences, including arrhythmia and heart failure.
- Infections: Malnutrition breaks down the body’s ability to fight off infections, leaving your loved one susceptible for various illnesses. What’s more, a weakened immune system means your loved one may face longer periods of illness and the potential for lengthy hospital stays.
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Early Detection Is Key to Avoiding Serious or Fatal Consequences
Through proper care and quick action, nursing home staff can avoid most health consequences brought on by malnutrition. The best thing a nursing home can do, of course, is pay close attention to each resident every day to watch for early warning signs of malnutrition. Some clear steps your loved one’s care providers can take include:
- Performing federally mandated health assessments as required
- Creating and following thorough personalized care plans
- Responding quickly to improve nutritional deficiencies
Failure to follow these steps can result in malnutrition along with any of the complications listed above. If you fear your loved one is at risk for malnutrition, or that his or her care providers are not taking proper steps to avoid the consequences of malnutrition, contact our Chicago-area law firm.
Contact us at (800) 598-4348 to make arrangements to discuss your case with our attorney today.