Malnutrition

Healthy eatingWhen a loved one is admitted to a nursing home, it is usually due to medical conditions that require constant care that cannot be easily administered at home. Beyond their medical needs it is expected that they will be receiving the nutrition and basic requirements they need to remain healthy. Unfortunately this is not always the case, with many nursing home patients not receiving the nutrients they need due to neglect and poor care.

Prevalence Of Malnutrition In Nursing Homes

As a person ages, there is a higher risk for malnutrition. Appetite can decrease and food can become more difficult to chew and swallow. However it should be expected that when a person is under full-time care in a medical facility such as a nursing home that these risks would be addressed. They should have less risk of malnutrition than those living in the community, yet that is not the case.

For those 65-years and older living in residential homes, only 5-10% are estimated to be malnourished. In comparison, between 35-85% of patients in nursing homes or long term care facilities are estimated to be malnourished. With the on-site medical care available and 24-hour nursing staff, this disparity in nutrition of elderly in nursing homes compared to elderly living in residential communities is alarming.

Nursing Home Nutrition Requirements

Not only is proper nutrition for the elderly in nursing homes common sense, it is also the law. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 requires that nursing homes meet their patients nutritional needs. Nursing home patients should be regularly monitored for weightloss in addition to monitoring their food intake. Since many medications and medical conditions can affect appetite and the physical ability to chew and swallow, a care plan to ensure each patient is getting the required nutrients should be part of their daily routine.

Effects Of Poor Nutrition On The Elderly

Poor nutrition can effect health at any age and is even more detrimental to the elderly. Those who are already in declining health can have severe effects from lack of proper nutrition including:

  • Increased occurrence of infection
  • Increased chance of pressure sores
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Cardiac disease
  • Cognitive dysfunction and confusion
  • Muscle loss, physical impairment
  • Impaired respiratory function
  • Death

Malnutrition Caused By Neglect

Although it is unlikely that a patient in a nursing home is purposely being starved, it is still neglect when their nutritional needs are not being met due to lack of supervision or care. It is the duty of nursing homes to monitor their patients food intake to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need. When a patient becomes malnourished while in a nursing home, some factors must be considered:

  • Is the nursing home staff properly trained to recognize malnourishment in their patients?
  • Is there adequate staffing to monitor patients food intake and adherence to their nutritional care plan?
  • Has the patient been regularly weighed and assessed for nutritional needs?
  • What solutions have been put in place to ensure that the patients is getting the nutrition they need?

If the answers to any of these questions is “no” or “none”, there may be grounds for neglect and the nursing home could possibly be liable. For anyone who has a loved one that has suffered malnutrition while in the care of a nursing home, seeking the advice of an experienced nursing home injury attorney is recommended.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Fighting For Patients Who Are Malnourished

Malnourishment of nursing home patients is a serious problem that can result in a series of complications that can adversely impact the immediate and long-term health of patients. As established nursing home negligence attorneys we can prosecute a situation involving nursing home malnutrition or other types of neglect. Contact our attorneys now to discuss your situation or to learn more about your legal rights. 888-424-5757

Learn more about prevention of malnutrition in the elderly:

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