Common forms of nursing home abuse or neglect include malnutrition and dehydration. Malnutrition can occur in elderly persons when they are not provided with enough food to eat, the right food to eat, or if certain health issues prevent them from eating properly. Dehydration can happen when a nursing home resident loses bodily fluids and cannot replenish them. Both of these conditions can go undetected until serious injuries occur, so it is important to recognize the signs in order to get your loved one help as soon as possible.
“Malnutrition, dehydration, and weight loss in nursing homes constitute one of the largest silent epidemics in this country,” said Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation supporting research on health care issues.
Malnutrition – the signs
The National Institute of Health states that 20 percent of nursing home residents experience malnutrition. However, they also note that the definition of malnutrition can be variable, and prevalence can range from 1.5 to 66.5 percent. Other studies put this number higher, with as many as 85 percent of nursing home residents malnourished, and between 30 to 50 percent of residents underweight.
Malnutrition among senior citizens, especially in nursing homes, can be of special concern because these residents may have existing health issues that a lack of nutrition may only exacerbate. And, malnutrition can cause new medical conditions to develop. If you are worried that your loved one is experiencing malnutrition due to nursing home abuse or neglect, look for the following signs and symptoms:
- Always feeling cold
- Bloated abdominal region
- Cognitive problems
- Muscle weakness
- Swollen and/or bleeding gums
- Unexplained weight loss
- Yellowing of the skin, or any skin changes
When left untreated, malnutrition can lead to serious medical conditions, including wrongful death. If you believe your loved one may not be getting proper nutrition and their health is suffering, you can take them to a physician where they can be tested for nutrition deficiencies. Experienced Maryland attorneys can advise on what to do next.
Dehydration – the signs
Often, malnutrition and dehydration go hand-in-hand. For the elderly, becoming dehydrated can make existing health issues worse or even cause new conditions to occur. Dehydration can cause health emergencies like seizures or kidney failure, so it is crucial to notice the symptoms as soon as possible. These include:
- Confusion and irritability
- Decrease in urination and urine output
- Dry, papery skin
- Inability to sweat
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Sticky and dry mouth
- Sunken eyes and cheeks
Dehydration can be a medical emergency in an older adult (or anyone). If you notice any of these symptoms, act quickly to get your loved one treatment.
The nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. are dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable members of society. We demand accountability from negligent nursing homes when they fail to care for your loved ones and cause them harm. To schedule a free consultation about your case, give our Maryland offices a call today at 410-730-7737 or use our contact form.