Malnutrition a Danger to Nursing Home Residents
As loved ones move to more extended care, and then to nursing homes, we tend to feel concerned about a myriad of different issues. Will they like the nursing home and their room? Will they get along with the staff? Will they make friends of the patients? Those and other social concerns seem to be the first on our mind, especially since we have a little control over these variables. Unfortunately, few people are concerned about whether our loved ones are going to have enough to eat. However, recent trends show that preventing malnutrition in a nursing home is this is something we should be concerned about.
Malnutrition covers a range of problems, from someone not receiving the proper amount of nutrients because of an unbalanced diet, being ill and not being able to eat enough, or even poor or inadequately prepared food. Watching how the patient eats, how much they eat, and why they are not eating is crucial to finding an answer to problems with malnutrition in nursing homes.
Other factors may add to this problem. Some elderly patients may have lingering dental problems that prevent them from eating. Also, it is normal for elderly patients to experience a loss of appetite. Ensuring that patients are receiving enough calories takes qualified staff members monitoring the situation often.
Sometimes, nursing home residents take prescription-based drugs that negatively impact their appetite. These may have unwanted side effects, leading to a decreased appetite or nausea. If the nursing home experiences a staffing shortage or a lack of qualified personnel trained to observe eating habits, this may put the residents at greater risk of malnutrition. If patient’s need help when eating, a staff shortage or a lack of qualified staff is going to lead to staff members feeling overwhelmed and not being able to help every patient, which leads to the quality of patient care decreasing.
Complicating these matters is the fact that numerous nursing homes refuse to reduce their profits to avoid serving unappetizing meals, serve meals below-average temperatures, and improperly stored ingredients. Like restaurants, nursing homes are under state regulations to prevent dangerous kitchen practices. Unfortunately, they tend to only be inspected when a complaint is issued. It is understandable that residents refuse to eat bland, cold, and/or ruined food. If we take into consideration that many of the medications provided to nursing home patients require them to take some food along with these prescriptions to prevent an upset stomach, you can understand why malnutrition may lead to more side effects with prescription-based drugs.
Malnutrition, especially in aged patients, can be a life-threatening illness. Without the proper nutrition, it becomes even harder for elderly patients to ward off infection, which may lead to additional medical complications and may even prove fatal.
If you notice any of these signs, it is important to speak up and act fast:
- Tooth decay
- Mental decline and memory loss
- Fragile bones, muscle loss, weakness
- Dry skin
- Bloated abdomen
- Decreased organ function
- Swollen and/or bleeding gums
- Weight loss
It is important to speak out if you notice any of the signs of malnutrition. Even if you believe the neglect is accidental or an isolated incident, it is never acceptable for a nursing home not to do its duty. While it may be an isolated incident, chances are that others could be suffering through the same problems.
If you or a loved one is suffering from malnutrition as a patient in a nursing home and is exhibiting signs of neglect, contact Rich Hitz at Carlson & Burnett. Rich has specific experience representing victims and families who have been harmed by negligence at nursing homes that resulted in injury or sickness. If you would like to discuss your case or want more information, please contact our offices for a free confidential consultation.