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Understanding Malnutrition and Dehydration In Nursing Homes

Closeup of an elderly nursing home resident viewed from the side as she drinks water from a glass.

Malnourishment and dehydration may be signs of neglect

Nursing homes have a responsibility to provide care for residents. This includes providing a safe environment and appropriate medical care. It also includes providing proper nutrition and hydration to help residents stay healthy. However, in far too many nursing homes, residents are suffering from malnutrition and/or dehydration.

Failing to provide proper nutrition and hydration is a type of nursing home neglect. But proving a loved one is a victim of negligence can be complicated. So knowing the signs and what to do if you suspect neglect is occurring is essential.

What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition means that a person’s body is not receiving adequate amounts of nutrients to function properly. Signs that a loved one may be suffering from malnutrition include:

  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in the face or abdomen
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dull or brittle hair
  • Unusual cognitive impairment

Residents may develop serious health conditions due to malnutrition, including osteoporosis, anemia, and skin problems.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration means that a person’s body is losing more fluid than it is taking in. This could be due to excessive fluid loss, inadequate intake of fluid, or a combination of both. Signs that a loved one may be suffering from dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Extreme thirst
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Sunken eyes
  • Very dry skin
  • Low blood pressure

Residents suffering from dehydration may develop serious health conditions such as kidney failure, seizures, and brain swelling.

Nursing home neglect can lead to malnutrition and dehydration.

Nursing home facilities and their staff members are responsible for ensuring that residents receive proper nutrition and hydration. This responsibility includes:

  • Providing water and nutritious food every day.
  • Supervising and monitoring residents during mealtimes.
  • Providing assistance with eating and drinking to those residents who need it.
  • Adequately training staff members on nutrition and feeding assistance.
  • Monitoring medication that may have side effects that contribute to malnutrition or dehydration.
  • Encourage residents to increase fluid intake.
  • Be alert to signs of malnutrition and dehydration.
  • Keeping track of a resident’s food and water consumption.

Why do some nursing homes fail to meet this basic responsibility? Neglect may occur as a result of understaffing, inadequate training of staff members, lack of supervision, or failure to enact appropriate policies and procedures.

An experienced attorney can hold negligent nursing facilities accountable.

What should you do if you think a loved one is suffering from malnutrition or dehydration? Don't wait to take action. First, get medical attention for your loved one as soon as possible. Next, report your concerns to the administrator of the facility. Finally, contact an experienced nursing home neglect attorney to review your legal rights and options.

Proving nursing home neglect can be complicated. An experienced lawyer can conduct an investigation and determine if a facility is in compliance with all relevant statutes, rules, and regulations. A lawyer can also ensure your loved one is receiving proper care and take legal action to recover financial compensation.

Located in Decatur, The Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC has over 20 years of experience fighting for the injured in Atlanta and communities throughout Georgia. He is passionate about protecting the rights of nursing home residents and knows how to build strong cases that get results.

Learn more about how a Georgia nursing home neglect attorney can help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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