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Dehydration, Malnourishment, and Nursing Home Abuse

If you are like many other people that have loved ones in nursing homes, then you know there is always a concern about the possibilities of nursing home abuse. You likely want to make sure that someone is taking care of your loved one like they were their family. While you may think of the obvious forms of abuse such as physical or sexual abuse, there are others that you may not think about. Dehydration and malnourishment are the most common forms of abuse among nursing home residents. Between 1999 and 2002, approximately 14,000 residents died as a result of dehydration and malnutrition.

Dehydration

Dehydration is defined as an excessive loss of body fluid. This many times is a result of not enough fluids being available or offered to the residents in nursing homes. This is a large problem because many of the residents in the nursing home are not physically able to get their own drinks, and may not be able to properly voice their concerns should they feel symptoms of dehydration.

Dehydration Signs to Look For

– Thirst
– Loss of Appetite
– Dry Skin
– Skin Flushing (markedly red in the face)
– Dark Colored Urine
– Dry Mouth
– Fatigue or Weakness
– Chills
– Dizziness, Faintness or, Light-headedness

More serious symptoms include vomiting, difficulty breathing, and seizures–in which case emergency help is needed immediately.

Malnutrition

The next leading form of neglect among nursing home residents is malnutrition. Malnutrition is defined as the condition that results from eating an unbalanced diet, which lacks or has too many of certain nutrients, or simply by not having enough food. If foods are served in the wrong proportions, it can result in malnutrition. Malnutrition is more likely to occur in the elderly because many of the residents have dental problems, which may make eating difficult. Also, there are many residents in nursing homes that suffer from dementia, who do not realize that they need to eat. They are usually uninterested in food altogether. Another reason that elderly people in nursing homes may become malnourished is due to not being able to feed themselves.

Many times residents that need help eating food may not get the help they need at nursing homes because of staffing shortages. Also, many people will not eat their food if they have to wait too long and the food gets cold.

Malnutrition Signs to Look For

– Weight Loss
– Fatigue
– Dizziness
– Swollen and/or bleeding gums, tooth decay
– Fragile Bones, Muscle Loss, Weakness
– Mental Decline
– Decreased Organ Function
– Bloated Abdomen
– Dry Skin

Get the Help You Need

If food and drink are not offered to nursing home residents, they can become dehydrated and/or malnourished very quickly. If an elderly person becomes dehydrated or malnourished, it can lead to many health problems, including death. And without proper hydration and nourishment, their bodies can not fight off infections, which can lead to life-threatening illnesses. If you think your loved one in a nursing home is a victim of dehydration or malnourishment report the problem to staff immediately to get your loved one the immediate help they need.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse involving dehydration or malnourishment–or any other form of nursing home abuse or neglect–you should contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. Nursing home abuse lawyers specialize is cases related to residents in nursing homes and can help make sure your loved ones are being taken care of properly.

References:

http://www.globalaging.org/elderrights/us/malnutrition.pdf
http://www.symptomsofdehydration.com/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/18046-signs-symptoms-malnutrition/

This article used with permission: The Nursing Home Abuse Center

www.nursinghomeabusecenter.org