The elderly have special nutritional needs as they age to ensure they remain in optimal health for their age and medical condition. Unfortunately, seniors often become weak and lose their appetite, which contributes to a loss of the vitamins and minerals necessary for our bodies to function at an optimal level. Therefore, without the proper nutrition, they may become malnourished and/or dehydrated and suffer major health issues that could lead to death.
One of the jobs of nursing homes and assisted care facilities is to provide nutritious meals that are specifically designed for seniors. Unfortunately, many facilities fail in this regard and malnourishment is a prevalent problem in long-term care centers. Some studies show that as many as one-third of residents in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities are malnourished or dehydrated.
Why Does Malnutrition Happen in Nursing Homes?
Malnutrition is considered neglect in these situations. It may happen for a variety of reasons, but it doesn’t eliminate the responsibility of the facility.
- Lack of staff – Many facilities are understaffed, which means residents do not receive the attention they need; therefore, no one may notice if residents do not eat their meals or obtain the right kinds of foods.
- Lack of experience – Because of the high rate of turnover, new staff members may not be trained in the nutritional needs of the elderly, and they may make errors in their decisions due to their lack of training and experience.
- Lack of good food – When a nursing home serves bland food that is unappealing, it can cause the residents to refuse to eat meals. Failing to provide appetizing meals can contribute to the problem.
Symptoms of Malnutrition
Residents who are not receiving adequate nutrition will show signs of malnutrition. They will be more fatigued and have muscle soreness. They will be weak and may experience dizziness. Their thinking will not be as clear, and they may become listless and confused. Furthermore, the person may even be irritable from lack of nutrition.
Other physical signs of malnutrition include canker sores around the mouth, discoloration of the skin, and glassy eyes. In addition, skin becomes even drier than normal, and patients may be bloated and have swollen gums. Family members who see these signs should not assume it is just the process of getting older. Family members should ask for an explanation and keep pushing until someone gives them an explanation. They can take their loved one to a doctor for a diagnosis of being malnourished. If treated in time, the person can recover. If a person is unable to eat enough to provide the nutrients they need in their diet, nutritional supplements may be substituted to ensure they receive what they need for their bodies to function.
Call a Lexington, KY Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected, you need to contact our Lexington, KY nursing home abuse attorney immediately. There are steps we can help you take to stop the abuse and neglect and hold the facility and staff responsible for their abuse. Call the Shelton Law Group at 1-888-761-7204 or use the online contact form on our website to ask questions or request a free case evaluation with an experienced Lexington, KY nursing home abuse attorney.