Among the various forms of nursing home abuse and neglect, malnutrition is one issue that can be out of the control of the nursing home staff. While a form of neglect, malnutrition has many contributing factors, and though it may not be the fault of the facility or staff, it certainly an issue that should be addressed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, within America’s nursing home system, malnutrition is quite common, so we’d like to spread awareness to protect you and your loved ones.
Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
According to The Nursing Home Abuse Center, 85% of nursing home residents suffer from malnutrition. A very small number of those suffering from malnutrition are ever formally diagnosed and treated. Malnutrition can stem from other health issues that the elderly are more prone to such as chronic illnesses, diminished dental health, dementia, and the use of medications that make it difficult to absorb nutrients.
As individuals become less able to take care of themselves – such as those who have dementia or alzheimers – it becomes increasingly likely that they will eat less and have less of an appetite. Sometimes, staff are able to control the nutrient intake of residents. Staff become neglectful when they ignore or fail to identify when a resident is not getting enough to eat and suffering the side effects of malnutrition.
Malnutrition can also have long-lasting effects like depression, organ dysfunction, and muscle deterioration. So, it is important to know the signs and address all underlying problems as quickly as possible.
Signs of Malnutrition
The signs of malnutrition range from obvious to more subtle, but if you are able to visit a loved one frequently, you should also be able to observe their eating habits to know if they are at risk of malnutrition.
Some common signs are:
- Weight loss
- Yellowing skin
- White fingernails
- Increase frequency of bed sores
What You Can Do
If you think your loved one is suffering from malnutrition, address their eating habits with the nursing home staff and administration. They may be able to make adjustments or offer a menu designed for individuals who are unable to eat normal meals. It is also best to talk to your loved one’s doctor who can offer recommendations, a dietician, or be able to address any underlying issues that may be leading to malnutrition.
If there is evidence that your loved one is suffering malnutrition as a result of abuse or neglect, contact the proper authorities immediately.
If you or a loved one have been a victim of abuse or neglect, call Gharibian Law (877-875-1119) today for a free consultation and the best legal representation.