When we make the decision to enter a loved one into a nursing home, we are likely to feel concerned how they are going to acclimate to their new surroundings, whether they are able to make new friends, and worry about other social concerns. Few people are going to be concerned whether our loved ones are going to have enough to eat, but unfortunately, recent trends show that this is something we should be concerned with.Malnutrition Amongst Nursing Home Residents
Malnutrition refers to someone not receiving the proper amount of nutrients because they eat an unbalanced diet. This may occur because a lack of food or because of a lack of variation. In many cases, nursing home residents receive the wrong serving size. If this happens consistently, it is going to lead to malnutrition.
It is also important to remember that elderly patients may have lingering dental problems that prevent them from eating, even if the nursing home does provide correct portions. Finally, it is normal for elderly patients to experience a loss of appetite. This makes it even more important for qualified staff members to monitor the patients to ensure that these patients are somehow receiving enough calories.
Finally, it is important to realize that these patients often receive a multitude of prescription-based drugs. These may have unwanted side effects, leading to a decreased appetite or nausea. This again makes it less likely for patients to eat enough throughout the day.Why Staff Shortage is a Problem
One of the largest issues in nursing homes across the nation is staffing shortages or a lack of qualified personnel. Not only does this put the residents at greater risk of malnutrition because of neglect, but may also lead to a host of other issues. 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. Oftentimes this means that the quality of patient care decreases.Unappetizing Meals
Complicating matters is the fact that numerous nursing homes face infractions because they serve unappetizing meals, serve meals below-average temperatures, and improperly store ingredients. It is understandable that residents refuse to eat bland, cold, and/or ruined foods. 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.Signs of Malnutrition to be Aware of
It is important to recognize that malnutrition 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
- Dry skin
- Bloated abdomen
- Decreased organ function
- Mental decline and memory loss
- Fragile bones, muscle loss, weakness
- 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.Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources