Elder Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
Malnourishment and elder malnutrition are common issues among nursing home residents. The elderly require a proper balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, grains and vegetables and overall ample calories to meet their bodies’ demands. If the food provided at the nursing home is unhealthy or insufficient to meet caloric needs then residents become at risk for elder malnutrition or malnourishment.
Dehydration is another common problem at nursing homes. Dehydration and malnutrition combined are one of the most common health issues seen in nursing homes; affecting about one in three residents. In some nursing homes, malnutrition impacts as many as 85 percent of the residents. Additionally, up to 50 percent of nursing home residents are underweight.
How are nursing staff responsible for elder malnutrition?
Undernourishment can cause many preventable health problems, particularly for the elderly who have weakened immune systems and higher rates of dementia and other diseases. Nutrition issues are tragically often caused by staff acting with carelessness and lack of concern for their patients’ well being.
Lack of proper staffing ratios can lead to malnutrition. Typically there is one staff member to every nine patients in charge of choosing meal options. In the evenings, it is common for up to 15 patients to be under the care of one certified nursing assistant even though studies have shown that the ratio should be a maximum of three patients per certified nursing assistant.
Compounding the low staffing issues, turnover rates among certified nursing assistants are 93 percent each year. This high turnover rate can lead to communication errors and training deficiencies.
What are the signs of elder malnutrition?
- Physical and mental difficulties not present when the patient moved into the nursing home.
- Canker sores
- Excessive redness in the mouth
- White patches in the cheeks and tongue which could be from thrush or other yeast infection
- Flaccid or weakened muscles
- Prolonged fatigue
- Eye redness
- Swollen corneas
- Deteriorating vision
Elder malnutrition lawsuits
If your loved one is showing signs of malnutrition, it may be in their best interest to bring in an elder abuse attorney who can assess the situation for proof of unsuitable or neglectful care from nursing home staff. A nursing home abuse attorney can then fight for damages and help to relocate your loved one to a better living situation. You don’t need to fight alone!
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