Nursing Home Malnutrition & Dehydration

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Putting your elderly parent or another relative into a nursing home may not have been your first choice. However, it is common for seniors to develop physical, psychological, and medical conditions that require more care than you can provide. Once your loved one is unable to physically or mentally take care of themselves, it is time to ensure that someone else is around to meet their needs. Nursing homes are often the best choice for your loved ones. Sadly, however, being in a facility and dependent on the staff can also put your relative at risk for mistreatment. Nursing home malnutrition and dehydration are common factors in nursing home neglect and abuse, which can seriously hurt your loved one.

If you believe your relative is currently suffering due to malnutrition or dehydration at a care facility or suffered an injury because of these conditions, contact our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Studinski Law, LLC right away. Call (715) 343-2850 to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.

Dehydration in the Elderly

Dehydration, which is the condition of not having enough water in the body, is an extremely common problem for the elderly. Many seniors do not perceive thirst the same way they did when they were younger. They often do not realize they are thirsty or becoming dehydrated. This issue along, with a reduced ability to retain water, puts elderly people at risk for becoming dehydrated quickly. The issue is made worse if a senior is unable to vocalize their need for water or get up to get something to drink themselves.

Seniors who are physically and mentally capable of doing so need to be attentive to their water intake. However, when the elderly become less mobile or have cognitive difficulties, it is up to their caretakers to ensure they receive enough water and other fluids throughout the day. For any elderly individual living in a nursing home, it is the staff’s responsibility to closely monitor water and fluid intake and ensure elderly residents remain appropriately hydrated.

Common Illnesses Associated With Dehydration

Dehydration in the elderly is very serious because it can lead to numerous health problems. The body needs water to function efficiently and fully. Without enough fluids for a prolonged period of time, seniors can suffer from:

  • Confusion and delirium
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Inability to urinate
  • General weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid yet weak pulse
  • Muscle cramping
  • Urinary tract and bladder infections
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures
  • Swelling of the brain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Death

If your loved one is consistently dehydrated while living in a nursing home, it is possible they will require additional medical treatment and even hospitalizations. They may need to take additional medications, particularly antibiotics, on multiple occasions to treat infections. If the situation becomes particularly severe or leads to additional medical events, it can result in early death.

Malnutrition in the Elderly

In addition to requiring water and fluids throughout the day, nursing home residents also must receive an appropriate amount of nutritious food. Without getting enough food or the right foods, seniors can quickly suffer from malnutrition, which is a condition during which individuals do not get the amount of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals they need to sustain their bodily functions.

Similarly to dehydration, seniors can become malnourished easier than younger individuals. The elderly can suffer from reduced appetites and decreases sensations, like taste and smell. This can cause them to not seek out food themselves or to not want to eat at regular meal times. Other issues like dentures, difficulty chewing, reduced mobility, depression, and digestive issues can cause seniors to eat less as well.

It is up to nursing home staff to ensure seniors are being properly fed and actually eat a good amount. Each resident’s nutritional needs may be different. Various medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and food allergies will dictate the food they receive. Beyond that, the food should at least offer a balanced diet.

How Malnutrition Can Harm the Elderly

When seniors do not eat enough to eat or a balanced diet, this can lead to:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weak immune systems
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Poor memory

Because of these health issues, seniors who are malnourished are much more likely to fall and suffer serious injuries, including broken bones and traumatic brain injuries. They are also more likely to get an infection, have trouble fighting the infection, and have wounds take longer to heal. When a senior is malnourished for a prolonged period of time, it can result in more significant medical events or early death.

Recovering Compensation for Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse

If your loved one has suffered due to nursing home neglect or abuse like dehydration and malnutrition, you should contact Studinski Law, LLC right away. Your relative may have the right to file a personal injury claim against the facility. If they can prove their physical, psychological, and financial injuries were the result of the nursing home staff’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct, then your loved one can ask for compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Wage loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Property damage, when applicable
  • Punitive Damages, when applicable

Losing a Loved One to Dehydration or Malnutrition

If your loved one passed away while living at a nursing home and one of the underlying causes was dehydration or malnutrition, contact us immediately. If your relative’s death was the result of negligence, then you may have the right to move forward with a wrongful death claim. During this type of suit, you can seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of financial contributions
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of society and companionship

Contact us for Help Today

When you admit your loved one into a nursing home, you expect them to receive excellent care. Unfortunately, that is not always what seniors receive. Undertrained, poorly supervised, and negligent staff can easily fail to monitor your loved one’s food and water intake causing dehydration and malnutrition. If your loved one has been injured or tragically passed away due to one or both conditions, contact Studinski Law, LLC at (715) 343-2850 to learn more about your rights.

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