Nursing Home Justice Blog

Why Does Malnutrition & Dehydration Happen in Nursing Homes?

Written By:

Attorney Mac Hester

Date Posted:

April 15, 2024

When you aren’t getting the right amount of nutrients, you face dire consequences. Studies have found that many adults staying in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are often malnourished or dehydrated.

If you or a loved one aren’t getting the care you need to meet your nutritional needs, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help you recover compensation. Learn more about malnourishment in nursing homes, and how a personal injury lawyer can help.

Understanding Malnutrition & Dehydration in the Nursing Home

Someone is malnourished or suffering from malnutrition when they do not receive enough nutrients from their diet to maintain healthy bodily functions. They may suffer an imbalance of protein, energy, vitamins, or minerals.

Someone will be dehydrated if they are losing more liquids than they are ingesting. They might not be able to maintain their normal bodily functions. Nursing home staff are responsible for providing for residents’ needs. If they’re neglected, nursing home residents can suffer malnourishment and dehydration.

Consequences of Dehydration & Malnutrition for Nursing Home Residents

If a nursing home patient isn’t receiving the proper nutrients or liquids, they might face significant health effects.

Some negative results of dehydration and malnutrition include:

  • Physical Health Consequences: Malnutrition can weaken the immune system and muscle strength. Patients may have a hard time recovering after an illness. Dehydration could lead to medical issues like UTIs, kidney stones, or even kidney failure.
  • Mental & Cognitive Effects: Malnutrition and dehydration can have negative mental health impacts. Patients could suffer more confusion, be less alert, and even become delirious. Conditions like dementia may worsen faster.
  • Quality of Life: Someone who is malnourished or dehydrated can experience a lower quality of life. They might need more time getting medically treated, their day-to-day life could be harder, and they may need constant assistance.
  • Increased Healthcare Costs: As someone is suffering more medical issues, the cost to treat them could rise sharply.

So What Causes Malnutrition & Dehydration in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home staff are responsible for the care and health of their patients. Many factors could lead to malnourished or dehydrated residents.

Some common causes include:

Inadequate Attention from Staff

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities can have a poor ratio of patients to staff members. Staffers may not take the time to check that their patients are properly cared for.

Whether it’s because the facility won’t hire the correct number of employees or because a staff member is negligent, a resident will still suffer the consequences when they can’t get the nutrients or hydration they need.

Lack of Individualized Care

Personalized nutrition plans are essential in managing the diverse dietary needs of nursing home residents. Some patients have specific health conditions that require specialized diets. Others need help in the act of eating or drinking.

Generic dietary programs fail to meet individual needs, increasing the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Residents who cannot eat on their own may suffer when staff will not give them the attention they need.

Inexperienced Nursing Home Staff

If a facility’s staff is undertrained or inexperienced, they may not be able to manage complex feeding regimens. They might miss signs of malnourishment or dehydration.

Reliance on Liquid Supplements

Some nursing home staff may offer liquid supplements too often. Although they can be helpful to residents with dietary restrictions, supplements should be balanced with real food.

When there’s an imbalance of nutrients, or if a resident decides they don’t want supplements, the risk of dehydration or malnutrition increases.

Quality and Appeal of Food and Beverages

When food doesn’t look good or if it’s poorly presented, residents may skip their meals. Some food is processed to aid residents’ digestion.

Ensuring meals are both palatable and visually appealing is crucial as these factors strongly influence the desire to eat and enjoy food.

Mishandling of Tube Feedings

Mishandling tube feedings can lead to serious health risks including aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, or dehydration.

Unfortunately, errors in tube feeding are not uncommon due to the technical skill required and the potential for staff oversight under high workloads.

Accessibility of Beverages and Supplements

Sometimes the layout of a facility can affect a resident’s ability to get food or drink. If anyone with a mobility challenge cannot easily access nutrients, they may become malnourished or dehydrated.

How Do I Recognize the Signs of Malnutrition & Dehydration in Nursing Homes?

Being able to identify if a nursing home resident is malnourished or dehydrated is crucial to protecting their health.

Malnutrition can show in many physical and psychological changes. Sudden changes in weight, loss of muscle mass, or an overall weakening can indicate decreased protein and nutrient intake.

Malnourished residents may also be fatigued or have lower energy levels than normal. They might be irritable or depressed.

Dehydrated residents usually have lower urine outputs, dry mouths and throats, plus sunken eyes and tighter skin. They might also be more lethargic or confused than usual.

Report Malnutrition & Dehydration Early

Nursing home staff should conduct regular check-ups and keep records of food and fluid intake. However, checking on your loved one can help catch any mistakes a negligent or stressed-out staff member might have missed.

You might notice changes before a facility employee does. Inform staff about your concerns, and keep notes of what you tell them. If you pursue a personal injury lawsuit, those notes will be critical to supporting your case.

How to Pursue a Malnutrition & Dehydration Case in Colorado

If you or a loved one aren’t getting the nutrients or liquids required to live comfortably while living at a nursing home or long-term care facility, you could pursue compensation.

Personal injury lawsuits against nursing homes offer victims the chance to get compensated for their losses. Damages that can be recovered include medical bills, pain and suffering, and even compensation for wrongful death claims.

How Can a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Help Me?

Lawyers can help you pursue justice after neglect leads to malnutrition or dehydration in a nursing home. The right attorney will be familiar with nursing home abuse laws, and they can help you:

  • Provide legal guidance to ensure you make the right choices.
  • Evaluate your case and calculate the value of your claim.
  • Collect evidence and build your case against the negligent parties involved.
  • Negotiate your case with the at-fault parties and fight for your settlement.
  • Represent you in court or in meetings with insurance companies.
  • Fight for justice in your nursing home abuse case.

Need Help with Nursing Home Neglect? Contact a Colorado Lawyer Today

When your loved one is living in a nursing home, you expect their basic needs to be cared for. When you discover the staff has been neglecting their dietary needs, you should take action to get them help and get the justice they deserve.

Nursing Home Justice and lead Attorney Mac Hester know how stressful nursing home abuse cases can be. We understand that you want guidance, and we want you to get the justice you and your family deserve. We have the resources and knowledge to help you with your goals, and to get you peace of mind.

Contact Nursing Home Justice today. Call (303) 775-8128.

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