Malnutrition – A Sign of Nursing Home Abuse
In response to a study that found nursing home residents were being abused and neglected, Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. This act establishes specific requirements regarding dietary intake for residents to protect against malnutrition and the resulting health problems. Unfortunately, this act has gone only so far to protect the people we love who require assistance on a daily basis.
- How can malnutrition harm a nursing home resident?
- Why do nursing home residents become malnourished?
- How can a nursing home prevent malnutrition?
- How should a nursing home prevent malnutrition using assessments?
Malnutrition, Neglect and Nursing Home Facts
According to a report in 2000 by The Commonwealth Fund, approximately 85 percent of elderly individuals living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are suffering from some level of malnutrition. One of the greatest causes of malnutrition is lack of care or neglect on the part of nursing home staff and administrators. Malnutrition is neglect, which is a form of nursing home abuse, and can stem from poor staffing levels, limited food options and basic oversight.
Signs and Symptoms of Malnutrition
The best way for you to protect against malnutrition is to keep a close eye on your loved one’s overall health. For instance, the following signs and symptoms appear when an elderly individual is malnourished:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss over a short period of time
- Poor dental health
- Extreme fatigue and lethargy
- Wounds that heal slowly or not at all
- Irritability and/or depression
These signs can be present in any elderly person living in a nursing home. There are certain populations, however, that are more at risk, including individuals with cognitive impairments and/or with swallowing disorders (dysphagia).
Malnutrition Will Lead to Further Health Problems
First and foremost, malnutrition leads to a broken down immune system due to lack of intake of proper nutrients. This compromised immune system opens an elderly person up to myriad health problems and increases the likelihood of infection. Malnutrition can also lead to:
- Renal failure
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Susceptibility to infection
- Falls and fractures
- Slow healing or no healing of wounds and bruises
- Lack of interest in food
It is important to keep a close eye on your loved ones while they are living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. One of the best things you can do is visit during mealtimes to see how much and how well your loved one is eating. You can often stop malnutrition before the situation gets worse.
Contact The Rooth Law Firm for Help
If you believe your elderly loved one is suffering from malnutrition caused by neglect or the direct actions of the staff at the nursing home, reach out to us. We can help you identify what is happening to your loved one and help you take steps to correct the situation. Contact our Chicago personal injury law firm today for your free consultation.