Any new nursing home patient must be evaluated for dietary and nutritional needs by a physician. Based on the nutritional assessment, the nursing home facility must take steps to ensure that the resident maintains good nutritional health and must provide a resident with well-balanced, palatable meals. Any deviation from this plan can be considered to be nursing home abuse.
There are many factors that can cause nursing home malnutrition. These can include:
- Adverse effects from medications such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cognitive disturbances, or sleepiness
- Food and drug interactions which decrease the ability of the body to absorb vitamins and minerals
- Swallowing disorders
- Mouth problems like tooth loss, ill-fitting dentures, mouth sores, and mouth pain
- Tremors, which affect a patient’s ability to feed himself or herself.
There are also other, non-medical causes of malnutrition in nursing home patients which are simply the result of the staff not paying the proper attention to the situation. These can include:
- Inadequate attention from staff for residents who need assistance eating
- Staff who are uneducated or not properly trained about malnutrition and proper ways to feed residents who need help
- Reliance on liquid supplements
- Improper delivery of special dietary needs
If your loved one suffers from two or more of these symptoms, you may need to take a closer look at his or her nutrition.
Malnutrition is insidious. It can creep up on a nursing home patient and kill or cripple before anyone knows what is happening. If you suspect a loved one is suffering from malnutrition, do not hesitate to contact an attorney experienced with nursing home abuse cases. He or she will be able to provide you with answers to your questions and the guidance you need to take appropriate action.